Housemarque is a well-liked game developer, especially by myself. As they have made some of the best twin-stick shooters to date, and they proved that earlier in the year with the release of “Nex Machina“. Anyways, Housemarque has now delivered us a new experience in the shape of “Matterfall”, but does it hold up to their standards or does “Matterfall” fall short of greatness?
Well, I have some good and unfortunately some bad news too, because while “Matterfall” is a gorgeous 2D shoot-em up similar to games like “Strider” and classic “Metroid”. “Matterfall” provides a solid challenge with secret areas, score attack gameplay and the screen can get very busy with both enemies and particle effects. Those playing on PlayStation Pro will enjoy 4K visuals, and it looks gorgeous. However, they probably won’t enjoy their demise in 4K as “Matterfall” is a pretty tough game.
So unlike previous games, “Matterfall” is a 2D shooter with platforming elements, and I have to say the platforming isn’t the slickest I’ve seen in a game. In other words, it takes a lot of practice to memorize levels and even then, traversal feels like a chore, missing ledges, being hit by unseen enemies and having to juggle controls makes for a frustrating experience. The majority of controls are on the Dual Shock 4s L1, L2, R1 and R2 buttons and I constantly kept catching the wrong button when needing to boost, certainly not one of the best controls schemes I’ve come across in a Housemarque game; and there are no way to remap buttons in the menu.
The Gameplay is a mixed bag, because at times things just click and your boost sliding/jumping and are freezing enemies and eliminating them with ease, activating slow motion while you take out enemy waves. So when you boost dodge, and hit enemies, you freeze them in a stasis, killing them in stasis grants bonus points. Simply put, you’ll be a boosting a lot all the while increasing your multiplier. So if you take damage, it decreases…And for some strange reason, there’s a slight delay in firing after a dodge which makes you very vulnerable for a second so you do have to be tactful. However, on higher difficulties it’s hard to manage.
As always, there’s also of course humans to save, there’s a handful hidden in each level and finding them grants you extra abilities. You can equip up to three at a time and swap them out at will. These bonuses grant you weapon damage, extra secondary weapons and ability bonuses. These can help you pursue high scores. There are just three boss battles to be found in the game, the first two are quite good but the final boss nearly broke my will to live.
Nevertheless, if there’s one thing I absolutely adore about this game is the music. As its incredible and fits with what’s happening on-screen perfectly. In the matter of fact, it’s certainly one of the best soundtracks since Resogun and it truly helps you get in the flow of the gameplay. General sound effects and voice acting is good too, there’s also some loose attempt of a story. However, it’s not really built on much and is pretty much forgettable.
You know, it’s a shame to say it but “Matterfall” sure has its flaws. So rather than be fun the game can be incredibly frustrating, whether it’s the clunky jump/boost mechanic or the fact load times are way longer than what they should be, if you’re making a score attack run and want to instantly restart you got to wait for a good ten to fifteen seconds, which isn’t as quick as their previous games.
There’re only three areas for three stages for each and a boss battle and that’s it, no arcade mode, no survival mode, no individual leader-boards for each difficulty, no replays for high scores (Introduced in “Nex Machina”). It’s incredibly barebones despite another difficulty level, there’s not much else. You’ll be done with the game within two hours, which blows my mind as there’s no special score attack mode or a single life challenge mode. Even the leaderboards are a mess, rather than having scores for each separate difficulty they’re all rolled into one. (For the love of god why?)
So all in all, “Matterfall” is a disappointment (at least for me), and this pains me to say it, but this is my least favorite game out of what Housemarque has released so far, the major problem is that it’s short, there are no extra modes. It desperately needs an arcade mode in the same vein as “Resogun” and “Nex Machina” and level traversal can just get frustrating. There’s little to see in “Matterfall” and for £15.99 I expected more especially from Housemarque who usually litter their games with bonus content. I expected more from this title, and coming from Nex Machina which was a brilliant game, “Matterfall” fails to live up to that kind of quality. That’s also why I hate regretting spending money on this title, as thought “Matterfall” was a safe buy considering how great the other games are. However, out of the £15.99 games out at the moment, buy “Sonic Mania” instead.
+ Awesome Soundtrack
+ Looks pretty in 4K
+ Clever puzzles
– Awkward Controls
– Incredibly short
– Poor replay value
Replay value: 1/5
Housemarque’s side-scrolling shooter/platformer “Matterfall” falls short in comparison to the their previous released quality games , and why is that? It’s because the game ends to quickly and needs more content to keep players interested.
Genre: Twin stick platformer
Release date: 15/08/2017
Difficulty: Easy to BRUTAL
Spent time: +3 hours
Average grade internationally: 74.26% Gamerankings.com
PEGI age rating: 12
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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