Silly, reckless, hectic, trash-talking fun for all. That’s the best way to describe the fresh indie title Charge Shot that Power Up Gaming got recent hands-on time with.
Reminiscent of titles such as Samurai Gunn and Towerfall, Charge Shot prides itself on fast combat among friends huddled together on a basement couch. Four players spawn into arenas ranging from boiling lava to deadly spikes and the player who collects a set number of coins first wins the round. Coins are generated by shooting and defeating enemies and the controls boil down to jump, shoot, walk and shield. It’s simple enough, but like similar titles, Charge Shot grows addictive through quick rounds, tight controls and complex tricks possible through physics-based precision.
For example, players can use jetpacks to traverse the environments, but they allow so much more than the strategic advantage of higher ground. The boosters can also be used to curve shots with a stream that comes out of the pack’s underside. This added variable creates so many more offensive and defensive possibilities for everyone on stage while at the same time puts everyone in the match on edge. It is a double-edged sword that everyone is afraid to use against one another, and is only one of the tricks up Charge Shot’s sleeve.
By deploying a shield at the right time, players can send bullets back to enemies as well as push them into stage hazards when they venture too close. Stages are also filled with geysers that lift players (and bullets) into the air – adding another layer of depth to the game. And that’s it. No finger defying button inputs or drawn out combos – it’s just basic controls enhanced by a few variables that will constantly flood the stage. And, quite frankly, it is perfect that way.
However, being as new as the game is, it isn’t without a few problems. First and foremost, the demo played was on PC using an Xbox One controller. This in itself wasn’t a problem, but handling the jetpack with the control stick was. It seemed harmless at first but lead to a lot of accidental and fatal boosting. As we didn’t get a chance to check out the game’s options, we couldn’t tell if this problem could be alleviated, but hopefully it will be customisable in time for the full game’s future release. Speaking of controls, it would also be nice to have the option to aim your bullets – as shots only come from directly in front of the characters. While the set aiming did add an interesting challenge that had players fighting for the best altitude, having the option to turn it on and off wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Charge Shot could also do with bigger, more complex levels. While it is slightly hypocritical to admire a game for its simplicity then suggest a bump in stage complexity, the stages on offer were a tad too confined for Charge Shot’s speed. If the levels opened up more, but added some hazards and unique design this would give heightened variety to stage selection. It would go a long way in such a quick competitive game where players are constantly hopping from one stage to the next.
While it’s important to note that we didn’t play the final version of this game, more game modes should be included. Even though additional modes will likely be added upon release, it’s critical Charge Shot’s developer, Cowboy Color, chooses the right modes for the game. Two-on-Two and King of the Hill options would be nice, but we have full confidence that these devs will introduce more than a few kick-ass modes to an already insanely intense title.
Characters give no combat advantage but look just plain awesome in their pixelated forms. A Doc Brown-looking old man, a martian and ManBearPig-ish warrior are a few identities that are part of Charge Shot’s roster and we guarantee friends WILL be fighting over their favourite Charge Shooters.
Stages, while in need of a size revamp, are colourful and filled with personality. Backgrounds are fleshed out and expertly match the immersion you’d expect from locales like ice caves and volcanoes. Visual effects such as jetpacking, bullet ricochets and player deaths are flashy, fun and make the busy gameplay even busier. It borders on the edge of overwhelming without taking too much attention away from the actual gameplay.
Bottom line: This game is the fun fix all of you couch multiplayer fans yearn for. If you liked similar titles in the platformer/shooter multiplayer genre, then you definitely need to give Charge Shot a try, because it’s a blast and chances are the price tag will make it worth your while, too.
Charge Shot received the Steam Greenlight June 3, so if you’d like to keep up with all the jetpack gunning glory, you can follow the game’s progress at cowboycolor.com and a gameplay clip can be found here.
Cowboy Color has confirmed that Charge Shot is coming out on PC and Mac with the possibility of a Linux release and will shoot to have the game out by mid-September. Be sure to look out for the full review then.