Livelock, by Tuque Games, is a top-down shooter. I have a soft spot for top down shooters, and I looked forward to playing this one. From my experience, not much of the game is massively unique, but it has been consistently fun, and has been executed well.
When the game begins, you are asked to choose a chassis, which is effectively your class. You don’t have to commit to this choice, since you can have five slots for chassis. There are three different chassis: Hex, Vanguard and Catalyst. They represent the typical trinity of DPS, tank, and healing/support roles. Each of these chassis can be leveled up to thirty, each level giving you access to new weapons, skills and passive traits, and each have specific roles so that they can work well together in co-op play. Hex is equipped, by default, with a burst shot rifle, and is intended to take accurate shots to take out enemies. Vanguard is a melee oriented fighter, which, whilst isn’t unique, is a fun spin. Vanguard’s role is to almost act like a tank, and act as crowd control, thanks to his unlockable weapons. Finally, Catalyst is a support chassis. Catalysts’ primary weapon is a laser that not only acts as an offensive weapon, but also provides healing to other players, as well as the player’s own drones that can be thrown out to use.
Thanks to the wealth of abilities, weapons and passive unlocks, one can customize a chassis to accommodate their own individual play style. Most games would have some skills that feel essential when playing solo or in multiplayer, but here, most skills work well together. The other form of customization is aesthetic in nature. While you’re shooting your way through enemies, you’ll encounter upgraded enemies, who have a shield which can recharge, along with a life bar. These enemies have a chance of dropping firmware upgrades. These can be installed to modify your helmet, color scheme, and you can even add a cape. These aesthetic collectibles do add motivation to replay story levels, on top of high-score hunting.
In terms of available features, Livelock offers a re-playable 16-mission story mode; replaying the story is encouraged, since it grants you experience to gain more skills and weapons and also allows you to collect the aesthetic firmware upgrades. A negative point, however, is the unlimited survival mode. The mode is fun, and provides more leaderboard competition, in single or multiplayer. The mode’s downfalls are that it does not allow experience gain, the accrual of weapon upgrade currency, or the collection of aesthetic collectibles (in my experience). To those who don’t care about high scores, though, this mode will become, ultimately, worthless.
You can get some extra play time, however, out of replaying the story. There are three difficulties, and each level has secret areas with collectible voice tapes. These detail bits of backstory, but you also find caches of currency, so that you can upgrade your weapons, if you find yourself uninterested in the story.
The game’s story has the entirety of humanity extinct, and as an Intellect, you are trying to revive humanity. The Corrupted are trying to prevent this, bringing upon an age of machines, which involves killing the Intellect. The story isn’t particularly interesting, nor is it compelling, but the game play experience is enough to carry you through the game.
An issue that Livelock has is its damage signalling. You have a green health bar over your character, as is expected. After enough damage is taken, the screen begins to scramble, and you are warned about the amount of damage sustained. The effect is a good one, but ultimately creates difficulty where it maybe should not exist. I have had instances where I’ve been horded, and the effect has made escaping the situation a lot harder than it should have been.
In summation, Livelock is a fun, well executed top down shooter. Whilst it doesn’t do much that is innovative or unique, the systems that are in place are executed well, and seeking high scores has proven to be an entertaining experience. Whilst there are issues in the redundancy of it’s survival mode outside of fun, and screen effects that may obscure the screen needlessly, it is definitely a fun and solid top down shooter.
Gamer Professionals would like to thank the team at Tuque Games for providing a copy of the title for review.