January 23, 2019

At Sundown: Shots in the Dark - Review

Multiplayer games are a very common thing these days, from your standard shooter, to your MMO’s there is something for all, but developer Mild Beast Games have stumbled onto something a little special, as long as you are not scared of the dark.

At Sundown is a top down shooter, where up to 4 players can compete to see who the best is, in deathmatch style combat, the big twist is that unless you are in the light, you can’t see your character, and neither can the other players. This adds a layer of complexity that most shooters are unable to get, not only do you need to keep track of where you are, but also the other players, which, unless they are in the light, running or shooting, are completely invisible. You are given control to aim, using the right stick, so it could be described as a twin stick, deathmatch shooter, in the dark.

Before you jump into a match, it is best to begin with the training mode, which will not only give you some challenges to attempt to conquer, but also, detail how each of the 17 weapons work, complete with their secondary fire, if included. The weapons are the same that you would find in most games, pistol, shotgun, machine gun and so on, so don’t expect any pulse laser turrets or such, though there is a cool sword. The training does provide you with an indicator on where you might be, if you run, a smoke trial of your player colour will follow you, if you walk into a wall, the controller will rumble, but that is it. As the training modules ramp up, you will earn xp, helping you level up and your proficiency in using a weapon will also increase. The better you score in the time trial that each training portion comes, the more you will level, so retrying until you get the gold is advised, because not only will you understand the games mechanics, but you will have more choices for when you jump into the game proper.

When you decide to test your mettle in the main mode, you have a few options, you can try in the online arena, pitting yourself against 3 other players, or you can jump into local. The more controllers you have, the more chaos you can unleash, and the game becomes a hoot, especially with the announcer throw up words like killstreak when someone is dominating the match. Should you not have enough mates lined up, the game does allow for you to load up some bots, to help fill out the match, the bots can be assigned challenge levels, as well as team colours, so if you want 3v1, that is possible. Then it comes down the map selection, there are a variety of themes to choose from, like gardens and such, but each has obstacles that require some planning, especially when you are unable to see yourself, most of the time.

Each of the maps have a series of lights, which are helpful in show where you are, but they act like a spotlight on you for the other players, letting them target you. Large items like bushes and trees can act as barriers, if you get into cover quick enough, assuming that the other player does not have a weapon that can ricochet. Using the environment to your advantage is absolutely crucial, if you run straight at an opponent, if you can see them, without paying attention to where you are, you might find yourself picked off by another. If you are someone who wants to play a little dirty, or at least use all the tools in your arsenal, you can also fire a flare in the direction you think someone is going to be, giving you a clear line of sight on taking them out. While sticking to the shadows will help keep you alive, it won’t help you win though, so it is a matter of finding that balance. If standard deathmatch, there are other options available, team based for one and capture the flag for another, again the base rules are no different to what you might have played over the years, but when you have to chase down the guy who stole your flag and you can actually see them, it becomes a hunt like no other.

The games presentation is a little mixed, characters look cool and they each have a look that is all their own, the problem is that they spend so much time in the dark, that it is hard to get a good look at them. Also, as the game is played from a top down perspective, all the little details that make up a player model, are lost, especially when playing on a single Switch screen. The menu is simple, which is nice, and getting into a match is really simple because of it, selecting a map, is a little less so, as you have to wait for the game to load, before you can select it. The maps themselves all stand apart, at least once you look beyond the limited theme sets, thanks to some smart level design. The audio side of things is simple and pleasant, whilst the score is nice, I never really paid much attention to it, as the onus was on attempt to locate the other players, I focused more on that, than the music in the background. The training mode is where I heard it a lot, thanks to the short bursts of time that they last, and it was enjoyable.

At Sundown: Shots in the Dark is a game that you need to try, whilst the core idea of an map shooter could have been easily the best part, the games use of light and darkness, to build up tension works amazingly well. If you plan on playing solo, the game will grow tiring very fast, as bots are only good for some practice, but getting a bunch of mates around and going a few rounds, will easily lead to some good times.

Review copy provided by Versus Evil

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