Fast, furious, and flashy. The three F’s that could succinctly depict Illfonic’s latest action game Arcadegeddon, a significant detour from the regular output of asymmetrical games including the hit title Friday the 13th. Stylish and hip, this is all about action and running through the maps without looking back, alone or with a few companions, potentially thinking “this looks quite a bit like Fortnite.” It does, but this is a roguelite shooter where you leave your brain at the door, and speed may rule above everything else.
Gotta Go Fast
Arcadegeddon starts by soaking you in these hip and colorful vibes, tickling fond memories of Jet Set Radio, and maybe even Freejack to some extent. Everyone sports a cool personality or at least tries hard to do so, constantly flirting between compelling and cringe, fake it ‘til you make it style oozing from all the digital pores. Inevitably, this atmosphere had to be drenched in dubstep and hip-hop sounds, a choice that is bound to get you bobbing your head here and there, but with even more potential for some ear-bleeding due to the screeching and excruciating noise that often blast from the speakers – your mileage will vary, but it is indeed a case of love it or hate it.
The whole adventure originates from the local arcade created by the legend himself, Gilly, who is now facing uncertainty. His only hope to save his business from the clutches of the megacorporation Fun Fun Co. is to release a new and bombastic game. However, the organization hears the news and injects a virus into the game, forcing you, the player, to get in there and take those viruses out.
The local arcade acts as the main hub, where you can chat to various personalities and take on challenges, customize your character, unlock weapons, gauntlet abilities, and plugins, a.k.a. buffs of various types. There’s a pleasant variety of options at your disposal, most of them locked behind walls that can be torn down by experience (for example, the more you use a weapon, the more it levels up and the sooner you will unlock it to start a run), power tokens (for abilities and plugins), or tickets (for every kind of cosmetic customization).
There’s also a premium shop selling items for real money, yet so far these are nothing but body and hair cosmetic parts that don’t affect gameplay. It’s more of a case of players wanting to support further game development than any way of reaching out into our wallets.
The variety of weapons is a nice touch, with plenty of options in different tiers. A baseball bat may start as one of your favorite picks, considering the extreme recoil when you fire any weapon from the hip (it’s slightly better when you aim down sights), but experience with each weapon will make it level up and improve on the comfort and effectiveness. From assault rifles to shotguns, sniper rifles, electrical weaponry, rocket launchers, miniguns, and even support weapons that heal teammates while damaging enemies, there’s something for everyone and the progress system feels balanced, not too fast to unlock but also not too hard for most weapons.
When you set foot into the game, which technically means that you are in a game inside a game, this is where everything seems to scream speed. Sure, you can take your time and move at a slower pace, but this is bait for enemies to come closer in vaster numbers and potentially give you a hard time that could have been prevented. Check your challenges and your objectives, move along as you can through the procedurally generated maps, discovering the chests with new weapons and material, and destroying every box along the way to collect coins to use in the mid-level store.
Better With Hip Friends
The solo experience of Arcadegeddon begins as a fun one, as you explore the maps and get the hang of the gameplay. The enemies can be tricky to eliminate, not because of any specific resilience, but due to strength in numbers. They may attack in close quarters, fire from a distant place that is sometimes hard to pinpoint, use their jetpacks for advanced mobility to cause you numerous aiming troubles, and for all their dumbness, they do try to get behind cover and throw a spanner in the works.
But it’s hard to be at peace with the way that they may spawn right next to you, sometimes on your back, and deal the ultimate blow without you even having a chance to understand what is going on. Boss fights are interesting but can be quite challenging until you get those roguelite elements up to speed, improving your build with decent abilities, plugins, and weapons.
One of the things that somewhat worries me is the duality of feelings when discovering a rare chest hidden somewhere in the dark corners of the map. They usually reveal a host of goodies, from weapons to plugins, but the way they are scattered on the ground so close to each other makes it a frustrating exercise in micro-positioning to pick up the chosen item. It won’t be rare that you find yourself switching weapons by mistake in quick succession because of this matter.
Given the procedural nature of the levels, with areas and loot drops places in different locations, each run does have this unpredictability to it. It’s a nice touch, and you may even stumble upon a boss fight early in the run and another one later, so this is a good thing to add much-needed variety to the core gameplay. And variety is a concern indeed, as Arcadegeddon doesn’t stray too far from its starting template. Adding different objectives and bosses per run does keep you on your toes, but after a few long hours it becomes repetitive.
This sensation of repetition is lessened by the cooperative mode up to four players, as you engage in frantic battles and teamwork, coordinating efforts for point capture and surviving waves of enemy hordes. The battlefield becomes chaotic, last-minute resurrects are something to be proud of, and there’s a nice feeling of achievement when the boss is down and all those glittery rewards spring from the chest.
PvP is open to pit your skills against others in several rounds comprised of different game modes. From classic free for all and king of the hill to block breakers and more, it’s the final rating that is going to determine the winners and send some XP and tickets their way.
The Ultimate Arcade Game?
Arcadegeddon is tight, very playable, the neon-drenched visuals are cool and stylish assuming you’re open-minded about all the garrish colors and epilepsy-inducing explosions, and it has enough weapon options and character customization to experiment with. But as hours go by, a certain feeling of sameness inevitably starts to creep in. The runs begin to feel dull, the enemy variety isn’t stellar, and all those edgy characters start to blend and looking the same.
With that being said, the procedurally generated maps are a nice touch for any roguelite, the gunplay isn’t bad in a very arcade kind of way when you finally deal with the awful initial recoil, and the gameplay is at its best when playing in cooperative mode. Give Arcadegeddon a try if you can stomach all that neon and are in the lookout for a fast-paced and light mix between Fortnite and Remnant 2, but beware of your ears.
- Stylish and neon-drenched looks
- Plays a mean shooting game, especially in co-op mode
- Procedurally generated levels change the pace of each run
- Vast arsenal with competent progression system
- A certain feeling of sameness
- Enemies spawning right beside you
- Dubstep music can become jarring
Arcadegeddon review code was provided by the publisher. You can read MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here.