Save the last humans: Resogun and its neon afterglow

Thursday, 5 December 2013 11:35 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Housemarque has created an essential arcade shooter in PS4’s Resogun. Patrick Garratt is having a terrible, brilliant time.

Save the last humans. Superimposed waves and dots. I’m typing this and neon traces are flowing over the white. Resogun stays with you. The last game that left me with visual memories was Geometry Wars. All-direction attack. Resogun is like getting invited to the best orgy: you walk through the door, you’re going to get fucked every which way.

Resogun. I love that game. Adult power-arcade broadcasting primary phosphorescence in as many pixels as your TV can handle. Levels stretch ever on, the glowing, ping pong humans gracing you with protection or offense, Day-Glo waves splashing against your laser hull. The centre of Resogun can, on occasion, be a thoughtless place, a collapsing cluster of coloured patterns weaving over the level’s ruined, smoking hub; the familiar always dispels the techno-magic, though, pirouetting spiders (blue bad, yellow and black worse) and the screen-wide bullet flowers, orange petal fire splashing with green overdrive dew, dragging you out of your coma. Up and down left and right. Harder and harder. It doesn’t seem to ever stop. Beyond all your limits with every weapon in the red. This is not a cheery affair.

And the misery is deepened by diversity. Resogun doesn’t limit itself to one tactic, not solely to score nor survival, but instead heaps sharing, leaderboards, impossible difficulty, single stages and endurance runs over an already exquisitely designed shooter. I’m told score competition in Finland is particularly fierce. When I posted a video of me beating the second level on Veteran, Americans on Twitter were immediately asking me what my score levels were. More than 16 million for Experienced Arcade. Not bad.

Me beating the second stage, Ceres, on Veteran. It gets much harder than this.

Apart from being an exceptional neo-arcade example, Resogun also has the benefit of being accessible to virtually every PS4 owner as it’s free with your Plus sub. Everyone’s playing it. Resogun is the first to show the power of giving a brand new game to an entire user base. You can play it with everyone on your friends list, because everyone owns it, because it’s free. It pulls the system together both on technical and social levels. It hints at the event Driveclub could be next year: there’s no question of PS4 players getting involved. Your entire PlayStation-based social network is going to download and play that game, if only for a few hours. You’ll be able to challenge anyone. You can with Resogun. The concept’s genius in a form we haven’t seen before on consoles. It’s glorious. Like, all I want to do is play Resogun. That’s a decent indicator, to me at least, that something’s gone right with PS4.

Difficult to get this written, even, because of the one more go, struggling through exponentially denser walls of rupturing pixels to deliver the human to the nearest drop-off, to save them for maybe a bomb, maybe (please) an extra life. Streamed a bit of the last level, Mefitis, on Experienced, and a guy answered on Twitter with the digital equivalent of a thousand yard stare.

Don’t panic. Mobility is your biggest asset. All I hear all fucking day is, “multiplier up,” Pat. I’m trying to learn about importing PDFs into Trados. Feeling overwhelmed? Multiplayer lost. Every ship has its own characteristics; try them all to see which suits you best. Kill enemies faster to get a higher score. Sure. Friend me up for co-op: patlikefr. I’ll be glad to. I’m playing it constantly as it is. Save the last humans. May as well do it with others.

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