Masters of the indie game, Housemarque and Sony Computer Entertainment have gone hand-in-hand in recent times. Following the commercial success with Resogun, Dead Nation and Alienation, and keeping in the spirit of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, Housemarque hits their stride with the latest release in Matterfall.
The world has been infected by ‘Smart Matter’, an alien substance initially harvested for the benefit of the human race. When all hell breaks loose, it’s up to Avalon Darrow to save the world. With Avalon’s power of mastering matter and weapons skills, fight through the chaos in Fortuna City to save humanity from the Red Matter alien threat.Matterfall takes the elements of what made Resogun great and applies them to a side-scrolling shooter, making for a fast-paced action ride that barely gives you time to breathe. Traversing through Fortuna City you start the game by learning the basics; left joystick to move, right joystick to shoot directionally, and R1 to jump. This combo is strange at first, but once you get into the rhythm of it you begin to feel comfortable jetting through the levels and taking out enemies. Avalon’s slides and super jumps freeze enemies temporarily which adds a technical dimension to gameplay, as it also helps her slide through bullet barrages and Blue Matter barriers. Avalon’s Matter weapon allows barriers to be activated as shields or platforms, as well as having the ability to detonate Matter mines, and to free trapped scientists to get them to safety.
At certain points, Avalon gets thrown into zero-G states where things can be chaotic. Dodging Red Matter spurts and enemy attacks as well as navigating around the environment can be quite full-on, but therein lies the challenge of the game. Every destroyed enemy builds up your multiplier and eventually you can unleash Overcharge attacks which can clear an entire screen at once. These are often best saved for dire moments so use them wisely.Matterfall, at its core, literally feels like Resogun in a platform shooter game. The gunplay is the same, the heavy sci-fi synth soundtrack is extremely similar, and even the voice that tells you about your multiplier is identical to the voice in Resogun, so far as to say I’m pretty sure it’s the same clip. Don’t get me wrong; I loved Resogun when it released – it was fun and chaotic, and you would create certain gameplay rhythms to play to in order to proceed. Matterfall takes the things that Resogun did so well and turns it into something akin to Metroid, but more fast-paced and frenetic. Thinking on your feet is a necessary skill here as the quicker you proceed, the less time you have to pre-empt impending enemy attacks or obstacles.
The saving grace of the game is the fact that damage from enemies and Red Matter isn’t hugely significant, meaning you can fight your way through to each checkpoint where your health is refreshed. Grenades help clear rooms of lower enemies, but some can only be destroyed with certain methods like stunning them – and the moment you miss one, it’ll come back to haunt you.
Matterfall is the kind of game Housemarque does best – easy to learn, but a little harder to master. Achievement hunters will find themselves speedrunning and shooting through for the high score points, while other players will have loads of fun with the zero-G and Matter mechanics. Matterfall’s quick and frantic gameplay won’t be for everyone, but for those who really dig sci-fi and shooters, it is definitely a must-get.