Back in 2013 when the PS4 was released (yes it has been that long), Resogun was one of the launch titles available, and quite possibly the best game available. It was the first free PS+ title for the PS4 and a simple, yet brilliant shooter developed by Sony-owned, Housemarque. Housemarque has been known for making quality, digital titles with a long list of releases, now comes their latest, Matterfall.
Matterfall is a side scrolling shooter that mixes in puzzle elements. It feels as if Housemarque has attempted to combine the best elements of their previous titles and blend them into one game. The easiest way to describe it would be, if you put Resogun, Outland and Metroid into a blender, put it on high speed for two minutes, Matterfall would be the result.
The left stick moves your character, Darrow, the right stick aims your weapon. Jumping is activated with the R1 button, which takes some getting used to. Shooting feels more natural with the R2, whilst L1 allows your character to slide/charge, and L2 will shoot a beam which creates matter used for solving puzzles. Secondary weapons are added during the game and are used via the D-pad. The game’s controls and flow work considerably well and those who love fast paced action are in for a treat.
The levels are well designed and each section is quite long with checkpoints located along the way. These checkpoints are far enough apart to create a challenge, yet not so far to make things frustrating if you fail. There are some sections of levels that contain zero gravity, here you can drift where you like whilst battling enemies and manipulating the environment. These sections are by far the most fun throughout.
The enemies are varied and plentiful, with both charging contact and shooting types, the bosses are satisfyingly tough. The enemies are not the only hazard along the way. Alike Outland there is a great use of blue and red, with blue matter being safe and red matter being dangerous. Contact with anything red results in health reduction.
The pace of the game is frantic. As with Resogun, combo multipliers are awarded for kill streaks without damage and the ability to overcharge is present. When in overcharge, Darrow feels extremely powerful, shooting increases to multifire and the enemies are plentiful. Overcharge has a time limit which can be cut short via damage to Darrow.
There are global leader boards and friend’s leader boards for each level that comprise of speed and highest scores. Gamers who love the challenge of working their way to the top will enjoy this. I am not one of those gamers, yet I found myself trying speed runs as I become more adept with Darrow’s control scheme and abilities.
Graphics & Audio
For a side scroller, Matterfall is gorgeous. The characters are sensationally detailed and the environments are great. The over use of red and blue due to the game’s premise does not detract from the visuals at all. The animation is also fantastic.
The sound is very good and again, Housemarque make great use of the dual-shock 4’s inbuilt speaker. Reload sounds come through, along with a familiar voice alerting players to multipliers, overcharges and other pickups. It is a facet of the PS4 that is sadly underused and very effective when done well.
Matterfall is an extremely fun game and one I have welcomed lovingly to my collection. As a fan of many of Housemarque’s previous titles, (Resogun, Outland, Alienation, Dead Nation and Nex Macina to name a few) and a fan of Metroid, I am loving what they have produced here. Fans of side scrollers and fast paced action will be in heaven.