The Brute, The Nun, And The Gunslinger
HIGH Masterfully designed characters and unique systems.
LOW The story is full of unrealized potential.
WTF Am I the only person in the world who likes this game?
Killsquad is a co-op isometric action RPG from Novarama studios. In Killsquad, Players take on the role of bounty hunters trying to bring peace to a war-torn galaxy, but for a price!
These characters are Killsquad‘s selling point — their abilities are unique, and each is made with a specific playstyle in mind supported by their own skill tree and mechanics. Further, each hero has an ability loop — essentially, killing an enemy while under the influence of ability A charges ability B, which then gives special buffs to the hero when activated.
For example, Troy’s “Execution” ability deals a massive amount of damage to a few marked enemies and also increases the damage dealt for a short period of time, making it easier to kill off enemies, and killing enemies recharges the Execution ability. These loops add depth to the gameplay, and raise it above being just another straightforward killing spree. Players are clearly encouraged to come up with appropriate strategies to leverage these loops in combat.
Each hero can take two weapons to the field. Although the kind of weapons is always the same for each character, the damage types are different. While Killsquad fails to introduce this key feature properly to the player, each enemy is vulnerable to a specific type of elemental damage, so equipping the right weapon makes a huge difference.
The general themes and structures of missions follow common archetypes from other PvE games, so players can expect tasks such as such as defending a point, escorting something vulnerable, and assassinating specific targets. There are also secondary objectives during each mission that aid in leveling up a hero’s arsenal.
When it comes to difficulty, missions are balanced based on the number of players present at the start of the mission. If the level is played solo, the number of enemies encountered is reduced and the player has a limited number of retries during the mission. As more players join the game, more enemies spawn.
The maximum numbers of players in one level is three, but unfortunately, the game lacks much synergy between characters. Most of the cooperation is limited to classic Fighter/Medic/Tank roles, and it’s a shame that there isn’t more creativity in this aspect.
In terms of longevity, experience points gathered during missions allow the player to unlock new skills or to add secondary features that make them more efficient. There’s also loot to be picked up which encourages exploration and enhances the RPG side of the game.
In order to unlock new missions, the player has to meet a minimum required character level which increases when higher level equipment is used. Thus, grinding for powerful gear is an essential part of the game. Although Killsquad does have a ‘final’ mission and a semi-linear campaign structure, this constant grind for better gear along with endless arena modes encourage players to keep going after they topple the final foe. Aiming for endless grind isn’t the best idea for adding replay value, but so far there have been some seasonal events peppered in to liven things up.
While some of the tutorialization could be better and the lore aspect falls flat, my only real concern for Killsquad is that at the time of review, hardly anyone was playing online. Without rustling up friends specifically to play, there’s little chance for someone to find a pickup game — at the time of writing, there were less than 30 people playing globally, according to Steam — which means there’s little chance anyone will stay with it, making the empty servers even emptier. It’s sad to see a indie title like this with so much promise struggling to find an audience.
Killsquad is an enjoyable run, specially when played with friends, but it’s facing stiff competition against big-budget triple-A multiplayer experiences like Warframe or Destiny 2. The in-depth ability loops and RPG elements in Killsquad are done well, but the greatest enemy this title faces is… a lack of players.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Novarama Studio. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and was reviewed on PC. Approximately 7 hours of play were devoted to the single-player and co-op modes, and the game was not completed.
Parents: The game was not rated by the ESRB at the time of review, but it has fantasy violence where players kill hordes of alien monsters and robots – when killed with swords, enemies break into smaller pieces but there is no blood, for example. The game has no sexual content.
Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game has subtitles, but they cannot be resized or altered. When enemies spawn in as hordes, no specific audio cue is there.
Remappable Controls: Yes, this game’s controls are remappable.