The PlayStation 4 launch had problems. Dropping Infamous: Second Son and DriveClub from the launch lineup into 2014 was a critical blow, cutting the PS4’s selection of launch day retail exclusives in half, and leaving it up to Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack to set the system apart from its impressive competitor a week away. Anything else for the PS4 to hang its hat on would have to come in the form of digital exclusives. Enter PlayStation Plus limited-time freebie and launch day savior, Resogun.
What Is It?
Resogun is the brainchild of Housemarque, the fine folks who brought you Super Stardust. The moment you fire it up, it will present itself to you as a twin-stick reimagining of arcade classic Defender, but the truth is that there is much more to it than that. Resogun’s influences run the shmup gamut from Defender to Gradius, from Galaga to Einhander, and all points in between. The premise is remarkably simple for a 2013 system launch exclusive. Ten humans are being held in each of Resogun’s five stages. As you play through each stage, you will run across green-glowing enemy groups called “keepers”. Every wave of keepers you take out will free one human for you to scoop up and deliver to escape pods at the top of the stage, but failing to get rid of the keepers will result in a human casualty. Every human saved will result in a bonus of some kind – extra lives to keep you fighting longer, extra bombs to wipe the entire stage clean of enemies when things get heated, a shield, or just a gob of points to add to your total score. Whatever the bonus, you will also achieve about three times more dakka for several seconds, allowing you to take care of some extra crowd control once you’ve just lifted someone to safety. Once the matter of the stage’s humans is resolved (one way or the other), the boss will appear. Resogun’s boss fights are all very well designed and very challenging. The game never goes so far as to engage in danmaku, or “bullet hell”, but you’ll still find yourself threading your ship through waves upon waves of enemy fire to deliver some of your own. The combat gets faster and more intense every time you ratchet up the difficulty, and victory is always incredibly satisfying once you’ve finished off each battle.
Why Should I Care?
The brilliance of Resogun lies in its simplicity. You pick it up, you play through a few waves, and you have great joy. Games like this were, for the longest time, held out of the spotlight when not entirely lost to the ether of the industry’s past, and it’s encouraging that it’s the very same kind of gaming that Sony has been championing since the PlayStation 4 was unveiled back in February. It’s also incredibly beautiful, with a visual direction and soundtrack that would lead one to believe it was direct feed footage from the imagination of Lumines and Rez creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi. It’s actually in your best aesthetic interests to play it at the higher difficulty settings, if only because a higher population of enemies on screen make for a much more outstanding visual experience. With four difficulty levels and five stages, it might be easy to dismiss Resogun out of hand as shallow and repetitive, but it latches onto that sense of “I could totally have done that better” so well that you’ll be playing those stages time and time again in an effort to improve on your last score, keep that multiplier going a little longer, or shoot for those trophies that come from saving all ten humans on each stage. That thrill of constantly trying to outscore your friends and yourself is back with Resogun, and with Sony’s indie outreach initiative, we might be seeing a lot more of it on the PlayStation 4 in the months and years to come.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Resogun represents a style of gaming that is very much worth supporting and by all indications is poised for a resurgence. It couldn’t have arrived at a better time than as a part of the PS4 launch, because it needs all the good games it can get. Even better, as of this writing, it’s a part of the Instant Game Collection program for PS Plus subscribers, and since all PS4 owners are PS Plus subscribers for at least the first month of their system ownership, there’s no excuse not to give this game a look. Beyond that, it’s still very easy to recommend Resogun at the $15 price tag it will command once it rotates out of the Instant Game Collection. However you do it, play this game. It is an unlikely PlayStation 4 game-of-the-launch, but ultimately, that’s what it is. As such, it deserves your attention.