That’s A Lot Of Robots…

HIGH filling entire rooms with laser beams and explosive ordinance.

LOW losing EVERYTHING when you die.

WTF Why can’t I pop the party balloons with my punchy fists?


 

I want to heap praise on Mothergunship.  I love so many things about it, like its future-mechanical aesthetic and its intriguing gun crafting system.  I love the large, satisfying explosions of dozens of enemy robots falling to an unbelievable hail of fire from comically oversized instruments of destruction.  The dialogue is absurd, witty, and fourth-wall breaking, which is right up my alley.  Yes, I want to love Mothergunship… right up until I lose all my best weapon parts because the punishing difficulty spikes and swarming, seemingly indestructible baddies killed me yet again and make me want to throw my controller, my PS4, and my TV out the window.

When at its best, Mothergunship is exhilarating.  As the door to each new room opens, I have a few seconds to get the lay of the land and work out where the exits are — spaces can vary from cramped accessways to sprawling, vertigo-inducing metal caverns with several layers.

Within moments, enemy robots appear and begin trying to disintegrate me. In typical first-person shooter fashion, I begin making my way around as all hell breaks loose.  The robots may appear on the walls, floors, ceilings, or flying towards me in waves.

Using the left stick to move, I attempt to dodge, jump (up to several times in a row — the default setting is a triple jump) and fire at everything that moves using customizable weapons I’ve designed and built with pre-selected barrels, caps, and connectors  to tack on more firepower.  Additional accessories can be purchased in various shops, so it’s possible to build truly monstrous gun hybrids. Melee weapons are available if I want to get up close and personal with my metallic foes. Dashing through an exit grants me a few moments of reprieve until the next room and the whole thing starts over again until I either reach the final area of the of the current level, or get obliterated.

Mothergunship’s biggest draw is undoubtedly the intriguing gun crafting.  Using a simple menu system and a few button presses, it’s easy to piece together huge combination weapons with the potential to decimate enemies such as a rocket launcher that also fires balls of lava, or 2 sets of chainguns and a sawblade cannon arranged in a triangle pattern.  The system becomes second nature fairly quickly, although anyone with spatial relationship troubles (like me) is going to have difficulty getting things to fit together efficiently as different barrels and caps significantly differ in size, and some combinations of connectors might prevent a barrel from facing forward, thus invalidating it as a design.  I am not good at 3D modelling, so fortunately I made use of y 10-year-old son who excels at it to telly me how to put all the pieces together.

Between missions, the fairly insubstantial story dealing with an invasion from outer space and the subsequent subjugation of earth unfolds between members of the resistance. Their plan is to destroy the titular Mothergunship and end the alien threat once and for all, and any plot that allows the good guys to infiltrate by disguising themselves as pizza delivery drones is OK with me. The voice acting is effective and the dialogue is clever and frequently hilarious, especially when Jasper the AI is involved.  In an amusing bit of immersion breaking, one character is able to manipulate the subtitles to mock the player and the AI at the same time.

So far, so good. So where does it all go wrong?

For starters, enemies can generally absorb far too much damage while dealing tremendous damage to me.  Granted, this is a factor of the equipment I’m carrying (blue and purple items do more damage than the lowly grey items I start with), but that wouldn’t be a problem if the items were easier to obtain or not lost completely upon each death.  As items randomly appear in shops, it’s difficult to acquire the perfect arsenal for tackling a particular mission, especially since it usually takes a run or two to work out what types of enemies and/or bosses I’m going to encounter along the way — I grew leery of using my best purple chain gun since I knew I’d probably get killed and not be able to replace it later.

Racing through levels without engaging robots is possible (and frequently encouraged) but then I’m not gaining experience or money quickly enough to boost my abilities or replace lost items. In fact, it’s often easier to just restart the campaign from scratch than it is to try and regain items by taking on various side missions since the difficulty spikes early and often. More health drops and allowing me to keep one or two of my favorite items after a defeat would go a long way towards allowing players to reach the end of the campaign without undue frustration, especially since there are no difficulty options.

With some tweaking, Mothergunship could easily become a must-play.  As it stands, only those with high-level twitch skills are going to have an enjoyable time.  People like me might eventually get through the campaign, but I’m not sure I want to anymore. Rating: 7 out of 10

— Jeff Ortloff


 

Disclosures: This game is developed by Terrible Posture Games and GRIP Digital s.r.o and published by GRIP Digital s.r.o.  It is currently available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 12 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed.  There are no multiplayer modes, although a co-op mode is planned for an August 2018 release. 

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Fantasy Violence. This is a first-person shooter in which players set out to destroy an alien armada that has taken over Earth. Players can craft guns and acquire melee weapons (e.g., punching fists, sawblades) to use in frenetic gunfights against a variety of robotic enemies. Battles are highlighted by “bullet-hell” style volumes of projectiles and frequent explosions. Enemies include multi-missile turrets, running droids, and a mobile wall of cannons.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.  

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers:  All game dialogue is fully subtitled.  There are audio cues, such as approaching enemies with no corresponding visual cue if the player is not facing the specific enemies.  It is not possible to resize the subtitles, nor are there any font choices available.

MOTHERGUNSHIP_20180815184302

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. This game does not offer a controller map diagram, but movement is on the left stick. Camera is the right stick. Jumping is X. Yawing the camera 180 degrees is Square.  Triangle is used to skip dialogue.  Weapons are fired using L2 and R2 (L2 for left hand weapons, R2 for right hand weapons).  L1 and R1 are used to select weapon hardpoints when crafting, and for rotating finished weapons in the crafting menu as well as selecting weapon barrels, caps, and connectors.

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