Creating a multiplayer-focused game in today’s climate is a massive gamble, way bigger than it was five or six years ago. Titles like Fortnite and Warzone dominate the market, while beloved franchise entries such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Destiny 2 manage to survive thanks to their addictive gameplay loops and brand recognition. Anyone that wants to tap into this overly-saturated market faces an uphill battle.
Arcadegeddon is one such bold and brave challenger. Imagine the cartoon visuals of Fortnite, set them in a repetitive run-and-gun shooter like Warframe, add a vast variety of weapon loot similar to Borderlands, and you get a good picture of what Arcadegeddon is like to play. At first, it feels too familiar for its own good, as the player-created character jumps, shoots, and runs their way through the tutorial, throwing endless pop-ups at them that explain how the in-game shop works or the difference between weapon types or in-game objectives. It was not a positive first impression, also due to the confusing hub that features a dozen different characters that give in-game quests that sound like gibberish to a newcomer.
However, after playing the main Adventure Mode a couple of times, everything started to click. The aiming and shooting are smooth and satisfying, from employing a sniper rifle to achieving hard-hitting headshots or equipping a minigun to mow down waves of enemies. Though harder to find, even the melee weapons are powerful and gratifying to use. As the player completes a level (usually between five to ten minutes in length, depending on how much time is spent exploring for loot crates), they gain extra points and the enemies become more challenging. Once a certain threshold is reached, the player can choose to either start a boss fight against a randomly selected enemy or continue playing Adventure Mode.
The reward for battling the challenging bosses is plenty of experience points and tickets that can be used to unlock new powers (called Surge Abilities) and cosmetics respectively. It is a shame that Arcadegeddon features microtransactions to facilitate upgrades and buying new customization items, as this practice is unlikely to generate much revenue considering the low player base. The lack of online players makes it hard to play a round of the player vs. player Battle Mode, which unfortunately cannot be reviewed. Thankfully, solo runs of Adventure Mode managed to be fun and engaging on their own, even if the novelty factor in both map rotation and enemy variety started to wane after a handful of runs. Later stages, where the enemies become bullet sponges that obliterate the player in mere seconds, definitely require co-op partners to defeat them, but alas, that is a challenge in and of itself.
The techno and electronic soundtrack of over twenty tracks injects much energy into each stage, wonderfully complementing the Jet Set Radio-esque art style. As colourful and bright as Arcadegeddon is, the screen tends to become crowded and chaotic way too quickly. The bright coins, ammo, and health pickups blend with the lasers and bullets shot by the enemy robots, often leading to confusing scenarios in which it is impossible to discern where the shots are coming from. It is acceptable in the first few stages and incredibly overwhelming in the later ones, creating frustrating deaths that could have been avoided with a cleaner interface.
Overall, while it is undeniable that there is fun to be had with Arcadegeddon, it is hard to recommend it in its current state. Sure, playing it by your lonesome can make for a mindless thirty-to-forty-minute run, but the game is clearly built around online play, both in PvE and PvP. The current lack of a player base, coupled with the reliance on microtransactions and grindy challenges, inevitably leads to boredom and tiredness. Maybe, in a few weeks or months, the right audience will discover Arcadegeddon and give it a second wind after its slow launch, but as of right now, time is better spent elsewhere on similar titles.
Copy supplied by the publisher.