How very Outlandish…
Of all the developers we expected to announce a game with a pre-rendered cinematic trailer, Housemarque was the among the last. For a studio that’s repeatedly made ripples in the industry for its visually impressive arcade shooters, and consistently innovative 2D-plane mechanics, a CGI trailer feels… at odds with the developer’s typical gameplay-centric approach.But perhaps the trailer gives away more than it initially seems – we already know Housemarque rarely strays from the 2D spectrum when developing a game (even the most recent hit Resogun is side-on game with some sparkly 3D effects). We can expect the same again here, and since the ‘Smart Matter’ enemies featured in the trailer seem to morph from nowhere and form themselves out of nothing – and are made out of blocks – we’re willing to bet we’ll see a return of the voxel technology that made Resogun so impressive. Considering Resogun was celebrated as the first PS4 game to really put the console’s latent power to use, too, we’re interested to see what else Housemarque has learned about the platform in the two years since Resogun’s release.
But what else do we know? Well, you play as a super-solider that needs to use a mix of agility and sci-fi weaponry to keep this foreign alien material at bay, and to that end you can even use the Smart Matter’s creations against itself. From the way the trailer pans glues to the side-on view about half a minute into the trailer, we’re thinking this game could very well end up looking quite similar to Outland – Housemarque’s Ubisoft-published platformer from back in 2011.
Outland fused combat and precision platforming with an art style that wouldn’t seem out of place in a Tron knock-off film, and dished out some pretty severe bullet hell sections every now and then. Could Matterfall be a spiritual successor to the studio’s older game? We can’t really think of anything else doing something similar genre-wise right now, so it seems a pretty safe bet.
The trailer also includes our apparently ‘unexpected’ hero hopping onto a translucent platform after he’s felled a piece of corrupted alien technology, furthering our theory that there’s going to be quite a lot of emphasis on running, jumping, dodging and diving. We’ve got this far-out idea that it’s basically going to an arcade re-imagining of Vanquish… but maybe that’s just wishful thinking on our part. Hey, we can dream.
We’re also more inclined to believe this game will be a side-on affair rather than a top-down twin-stick shooter (like Super Stardust) because Housemarque is also releasing another PS4 exclusive in the upcoming months: Alienation.
We highly doubt Housemarque is going to want to cannibalise its own audience, so Alienation looks to be aiming for the same shooter market as games like Helldivers (Housemarque’s game also has co-op elements) while Matterfall is set to continue in the same vein as Resogun – charting the company’s continued march towards bringing arcade action kicking and screaming onto modern technology. Since the game is a PS4 exclusive, we’re also inclined to believe there’ll be hardware features involved: more DS4 speaker effects perhaps, or maybe even motion control.
When we saw the trailer, we thought that we might be playing as one of the humans that you’d rescue in Resogun – after all, the sci-fi world and voxel-based enemies are strikingly similar across both games. The humans, though, have only ever existed as small green sprites until now. If you want to keep that idea alive, just tell yourself that the Resogun’s on-board computers are only capable of seeing humans as sprites. That’s what we do. Dom Peppiatt
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