I’ve always been a huge fan of top down shooters, and I feel that the best ones are earmarked by hordes of enemies, high difficulty, and the ability to pour out massive amounts of destruction to deal with said hordes. So I tend to gravitate towards games like Enter the Gungeon, Geometry Wars, and Crimsonland, where you are constantly on the move, using your weapons to control the chaos around you, and survival is pretty much the only objective. I love these types of games because they are one of the only genres where I truly enter a “zone” where my mind is totally empty and I am relying solely on reflex and instinct to stay alive.
Livelock takes a bit of a different tact, putting a much larger emphasis on story and specific objectives that are often more intricate than the basic; survive until the enemies or time runs out. At first, I was bit apprehensive that adding more complexity to this tried and true formula would ruin everything I love about top down shooters, but I’m happy to say that Livelock successfully incorporates deeper, objective based gameplay as well as RPG elements, while still not losing that special ingredient of bullet-spraying chaos.
Right off the bat, Livelock sets itself apart from most top down shooters by having a long almost needlessly complex story. In the future, humanity learns of a massive energy burst heading towards earth that will decimate the planet. Humanity’s only option for survival is to digitally store everyone’s consciousness inside of machines, who will work to make earth habitable for organic life after the energy burst is over. However, the energy burst is far worse than originally calculated, causing many machines to become corrupted, which sends various robot factions into an endless cycle of war.
Now the only hope for humanity is the three Capital Intellects; a scientist, a soldier, and (for some reason) an athlete who were among the first to have their consciousnesses put into a robot bodies, and charged with ensuring the survival of humankind. This long and slightly exhaustive back story is told in a huge story dump at the beginning of the game and even though it’s slightly over-written, it’s refreshing to see that the developer clearly put a lot of thought and effort into creating an in depth game world.
The gameplay of Livelock is fairly straightforward, you choose one of the three Capital Intellects to play as, each with their own abilities and fighting styles. The Hex character specializes in ranged weaponry, the Vanguard is heavily armored and focuses on devastating melee attacks, and the Catalyst commands an army of drones to assist in battle. Along with varied fighting styles and weapons, each character also has a set of custom abilities that take the form of area attacks or defensive abilities. As you progress through the different stages, either alone or in 3 player co-op, your character will gain new weapons and abilities as well as more heavily armored chassis.
The combat in Livelock is top notch, each fight has the right amount of intense combat without ever becoming so chaotic that you can’t keep track of what’s going on. Each level has your chosen character making their way through the post apocalyptic earth and capturing and/or defending an objective that will aid in restoring order to the planet. The level of destruction that you are able to dish out is simply delightful, there’s some indefinable feeling of satisfaction that comes from calling down an orbital strike on a group of advancing enemies, and Livelock gives you that feeling over and over again, it’s great at making you feel powerful but not overpowered.
Graphically, Livelock is a bit of a mixed bag; a major drawback of setting a game in a post apocalyptic earth is that the environments often look repetitive and many of Livelock’s levels are guilty of this crime. There is a little variation in the level design, but too often Livelock defaults to a grey color scheme with dilapidated buildings, which just looks boring after a few levels. The attack and special ability animations look great, neon bright flashes and vivid explosions give each ability the look and feel of utter destruction. The enemy designs are an unexpected high point, many look and move like predatory animals, making them feel much more menacing and unpredictable.
In addition to the main campaign, Livelock also includes a survival mode, which is where the co-op gameplay really shines. I didn’t have any problems playing the campaign in co-op, but the sheer chaos of survival mode feels tailor made for co-op gameplay.
Last Updated: August 30, 2016