There have been numerous games in the past few years designed to bank on our nostalgia. From platformers to RPGs, the retro-revival style is no longer so much the new black; it’s more of a muted grey from use. That said, while Serious Sam and Painkiller have run with the classic first person shooter style and iterated on it, I cannot think of a stand out example of a true throwback to the days when Powerslave and Redneck Rampage were serious contenders for use of our gaming time. (Seriously, kids. Look those up. We played them.) Hydra Game Works is looking to fill that void with RetroBlazer, and I can say I am glad they are.
Coming off the back of a successful showing at PAX South, and an even more successful Kickstarter campaign, development is well underway on this faced paced shooter. There is already some solid play to be found here.
While it looks like it was put together using a version of 3D Realms Build Engine that got dropped in a cotton candy machine, the speed of the game really brings it into its own. This is a fast paced shooter that puts the emphasis on twitch reflexes as much as smart use of cover. Enemies will do what they can to jump out and surprise you, and I experienced some flanking techniques, too. I cannot currently confirm if the latter was intentional, or if I was really bad at it.
With a good set of headphones, the sound design is also on its way to being great. I caught some great explosions from destroying the environment, and enemy sounds seemed quite well done.
Right now, just based on a work in progress, I can say that my only concern from the preview was the level design. In the old-school games that RetroBlazer evokes, it was common to have sprawling levels that needed every inch explored before the player could progress. We had to figure out where that darn key was. Still, the better designed levels had set pieces and landmarks to make this exploration easier and enjoyable. With this preview build, the best I was able to parse together was that the tile sets are in different places. This was enough to find my way through, but I do hope that level design receives lots more love before the final product is released.
With that said, the RetroBlazer preview awakened an appetite that I didn’t know I had. I was content to relive the classics when I had a hankering for the old-school style of shooter. Now that I have had a taste of a new entry with an improved take on this genre, I want more, and I want it now. Or at least quicker than it took to finish Duke Nukem Forever.
You can give it some Greenlight love here.