In many ways, the name ‘Arcadegeddon’ is a perfect fit for Illfonic’s new co-op third-person shooter. Like many arcade games of old, it’s bombastic, colorful, and full of personality and customizability from its player characters to its high range of weapons. With the gameplay of Left 4 Dead and the art style of No Straight Roads, it’s a wild ride.
However, like old arcade games, it doesn’t actually have a lot of content and you’ll likely only want to play in quick half-hour bursts. This could very well be fixed as the game gets more content down the line, but as of right now, the game has a lot of hidden potential that is yet to be fulfilled.
*Insert Coin Here
There isn’t a lot to the story of Arcadegeddon which really serves just to set up the context for the game with an acceptable ‘take down the man’ style plot.
There’s an arcade owner named Gilly whose business is being threatened by the all-encompassing Fun Fun Co. The conglomerate has used a virus to infect his beloved arcade machines and put him out of business. As a loyal customer of Gilly’s, it’s your job to go into the games and exterminate the virus to save the arcade.
You’ll begin the game by creating a custom character (with over 100+ cosmetic combinations: mostly made up of a diverse range of attire), then make your way to Gilly’s Arcade which serves as the game’s primary hub area.
Just from seeing the characters and hub, I really like how expressive the cartoony art style is. The exaggerated proportions of the characters combined with their multicolored skin tones remind a lot of early 2000s cartoons like Reboot, in a good way. It has a modern-retro feel that fits the game’s setting.
At the time of release, Arcadegeddon has three maps, called biomes: Nerve Center, Mystic Isles, and Aftermath. Nerve City is a neon lite city center, Mystic Isles is the jungle stage and Aftermath is post-apocalyptic. The maps of all three locations are fun to play through and feel unique from one another, that being said considering how often you’ll be seeing them, that uniqueness may start to wear thin as the game goes on.
Welcome To The Arcade
Arcadegeddon is a co-op third-person shooter focused on fast-paced bombastic gunfire. The main loop of the game is less about completing a big campaign and more about starting a new run and gunning through as many of the randomly generated levels as you can, while also unlocking rewards and earning XP along the way. Once again, very Left 4 Dead but with fewer zombies and more neon.
Each level isn’t always just about killing enemies though, there are many different objectives to keep you busy. While enemies will are constantly spawning, the team will have to complete basic tasks like destroying particular objects, finding keys, or capturing specific points for a certain length of time.
The game will also randomly rearrange levels on each new playthrough, so while you may recognize a certain area, it’s not always in the same order. This all adds a good layer of variety to the game that keeps you on your toes as you go into the next playthrough.
As you complete levels, a meter fills up that unlocks a boss battle. When unlocked, you can choose to take on the boss at any time. It’s pretty flexible but you’ll need to be careful since losing will force the player to go back to the beginning of the world creating a good risk vs reward aspect. It’s good for those that don’t want a roadblock like a boss to stop them from getting to the next level.
Overall, what’s on offer is a lot of fun however it comes with a big drawback in just how little content is actually there. With only three stages that can be beaten fairly quickly, you’ll likely see most of what the game has to offer over a weekend. The only thing you can really do is replay each level on a harder difficulty meaning you’ll likely get tired of the game pretty quickly.
One possible way to break up the monotony is the minigames. These are smaller, simpler games that are only available at the checkpoints of the different levels. A good example of this is Glitch Ball, which divides the squad into two teams battling to shoot balls into the opponent’s goal while slowing each other down with a bat and shotgun attacks, kind of like Rocket League but with firearms.
It’s a fun little distraction that, while not mind-blowing, is still worth your time as a fun distraction from the main game and you can get some good rewards for beating them.
The Big Guns
So how’s the actual shooting in this third-person shooter? Well, it’s probably the best part of the package. Arcadegeddon offers a wide assortment is different weapons to go to town the electronic vermin. You’ve got regular everyday shotguns and rocket launchers but the game also provides an assortment of more creative tools to try out.
One good example of these is the Pixel Popper which allows you to inflate targets with air until they explode which can damage nearby enemies. On top of that, weapons can also be equipped with elemental effects that add further enhancements to each gun. In one playthrough, I had an ice-buffed RPG that froze enemies solid while in another, I had a fire-buffed one that burn them to a crisp. It’s always fun opening a loot chest and seeing what you’re going to get.
Alongside weapons, you can also wield special powers called Surge Gauntlet abilities. These are powerful attacks come in many forms, like Hadouken-style fireballs. After use, however, they operate on a cooldown timer meaning you can’t spam them indefinitely. I guess you can say these are the special moves of the game and they’re pretty fun to pull off and very helpful when you’re up against the tougher enemies. You can unlock more by completing challenges for the nine gang leaders hanging out in Gilly’s Arcade.
To buff the characters, you can also collect Hacks. These sometimes appear in chests alongside weapons and currency and provide passive stat buffs such as faster ally revival or increased movement speed. You can carry a large number of Hacks at once and duplicates can also stack their abilities.
With all of these weapons, skills, and buffs there are a lot of ways that you can customize your character which does help the game feel a bit more fresh with each playthrough, even with the repetitive levels.
Arcadegeddon has a lot of potential. It’s a genuinely engaging shooter with easy-to-learn gameplay, plenty of visual style, and a good amount of customization.
That being said, it feels held back by its overall lack of content. Within a couple of days, you’ll be repeating some levels you’ve already beaten and will likely be getting bored of the game after a while. It’s kinda like going to a great restaurant, finding it has a great signature dish but soon realizing that it’s the only dish they have. After a while, you’re going to want to go somewhere else.
I think that Arcadegeddon can be a great game, it just needs to give the player more content to sink their teeth into. If the game had a larger variety of maps, more varied enemies, and perhaps a few more different modes, then players won’t be going through the same few levels as often and the game would continue to feel fresh and different. If it can overcome these few hurdles, then its solid combat will be able to shine through and it can truly become something amazing.
|Fun, fast paced action with friends||Not a lot of content|
|Great variety of weapons and custmization||The lack of content means that rounds can get too repetitive after a short while|
|The DualSense implementations help immerse the player|
Arcadegeddon will be available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, and PC via The Epic Game Store on the 8th of July 2022.
Game reviewed on PS5, copy provided by IllFonic.