Developer: Mild Beast Games
Publisher: Versus Evil
Review Context: I’ve never played any isometric deathmatch games like this before that have a darkness and light mechanic, but I do generally enjoy these kind of games that are best played with friends.
Date of Playthrough: October 2018
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 CPU 540 @ 3.07GHz
RAM: 8 GB
Video Card: GeForce GTX 950 2GB GDDR5 ACX 2.0 SC+
Disclosure: This review was based off of a review copy.
At Sundown, developed by Mild Beast Games, is a quick-paced isometric shooter game that uses darkness and light as a game mechanic to provide a different gaming experience then your typical shooter deathmatch games. Although this is a mechanic that I’ve seen before only once, At Sundown has its own spice with a lot of weapons to choose from, interesting zones to play in, and different game modes.
Every player’s account profile starts out with a base kit of weapons (SMG, revolvers, shotgun, auto-rifle) to choose from at the start every match. These weapons can be seen in the Training menu, which is where you learn the basics of movement in combat, as well as how to use each weapon, especially in certain range and distances, and also how to use the secondary special of your weapon. You will quickly notice that certain weapons are locked and can’t be trained just yet, as they are locked behind an experience wall. The revolvers for example, shoot a light flare as the secondary special that lights up a small area of the zone board, Every weapon has its own secondary functions that based on experience can be used as many times as wanted by the player.
The combat in At Sundown is very fun, which is one major hurdle to pass for this type of game. No matter what game mode you are playing in, the combat is very quick and fast-paced where kills are racked up very quickly. It comes to no surprise to me that this game would be promoted at QuakeCon, with Quake being another fast-paced game. The combat experience, especially the movement is a lot better than I anticipated headed into playing, as it is very easy to maneuver your character around the zones with the dash and dodge mechanics. Unless you are playing Arena mode or a specific gimmicky type mode, you will only be allowed to switch weapons after you die. The combat is so fast-paced that sometimes you don’t have time to toggle between weapons on the fly after a death, but more concerning, this is something that isn’t really taught in a tutorial. You have to figure out the timing yourself of when you can switch weapons and how. Luckily I was able to figure this out on my own, but this is an oversight in development. The dark and light mechanics are different in every zone and will definitely dictate your combat movements. Additionally, power-ups can be added to the zone to add even more variables, but they can easily be turned off if you prefer straight vanilla combat. The most fun part about At Sundown is being able to bait your opponent to a location, while moving in the darkness to ambush them for a surprise kill. Not to mention, there is an announcer that I found to be a decent touch to the game, proclaiming things like kill streaks and stopping kill streaks. One major issue I found in the combat were respawn locations, as they can be easy to camp if you are quick enough.
A game like At Sundown isn’t going to be successful unless it has a decent amount players to play with in multiplayer. This is where it is difficult to judge At Sundown to a certain extent, because the combat is fun, but is it still fun if you have no humans to play with? At Sundown provides both local and online play, with local play allowing usage of bots, as well as other human players. Online play has a Quick Match option, as well as private rooms, where you are shown a special code of letters/numbers that can be provided to your friends to be typed in to join a private match. When setting up a match you can choose between Arena Mode, Deathmatch, Timed, and Timed Deathmatch (other modes exp locked). Arena Mode is my favorite, as matches are separated by rounds and each zone has a handful of different layouts, and also allows the player to switch weapons in between rounds. Every other base match mode is self-explanatory. There are also many different options a player can choose from in the setup process, but unfortunately the game doesn’t explain all of them. You also get to choose between 1v1 or 2v2 mode online, but unfortunately it appears bots can’t be used online, even if you want to play 2v2 with a friend versus bots. This is a curious decision, as local play allows mixing humans and bots. Given that I am reviewing the Discord version, the private invite system in Discord is actually very easy to do and puts a button in your Discord chat for your friend(s) to join. I was very impressed by how easy this was to do.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to sustain a player base in an indie multiplayer game, and no doubt it will be even harder to sustain an online player base on the newly launched Discord store, separate from Steam, that has received very little publicity. The decision to release on Discord is as curious as the profile system within At Sundown. The game contains many weapons, game modes, and zones locked behind the experience wall, which requires hours of playtime to reach. Weapons unlocked by one given player can’t be used by other players in the same match, which is a game balance concern. That being said, an experience unlock is usually a great carrot on the stick for the player to continue playing the game, but what if the game is difficult to find players other than your friends that you have to make arrangements to play with? The game is clearly not as enjoyable versus computer bots in local play, nor is it very exp rewarding per match versus bots. With all due respect to Mild Beast Games, everyone wants to believe their game will have a sustainable player base, but it is also their duty to understand their place in the industry and likely sustainability as an indie multiplayer game. This is why the experience system, in my opinion, is too big of a wall to climb because it will require hours of bot grinding to unlock everything. I don’t want to omit the possibility of local co-op for some players, but it will most likely require bot matches, which are not fun and unfortunately people wont get to a lot of the exp locked content, thereby nullifying the experience system as a carrot on the stick. It is a huge error to lock game modes behind a wall, as the goal should be to give people as many reasons as possible to keep playing the game continuously by providing different ways to enjoy the game. All of the above doesn’t take away from the fact that the base kit of weapons, zones, and game modes are fun enough, but the locked additions definitely need access tweaks.
All the general features of At Sundown I find acceptable, as the PC requirements are low and it shows in the graphics. This is fine, as it provides a low barrier of entry that is needed for a game like this to succeed. The game also has a decent soundtrack, not too great, but acceptable for the game, as well as an entertaining combat announcer. The game also does a great job of providing stats, as well as achievements inside the game if you are a “100%” type gamer. I should also note the game allows use of controllers, but I played with mouse and keyboard with no problems.
I struggle to give At Sundown a definitive recommendation, but as I explained above, the combat is very fun. The At Sundown experience ultimately comes down to having a human to play with. If you can find someone to play with you will have a great time with it, but I don’t recommend putting your game experience at the mercy of the online matchmaking system right now, At Sundown has a good foundation of a game that still needs some tweaking to make it the best experience it can be, but the enjoyment is definitely there when playing with other people.
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Counterstrike 1,6 (PC)
Mario Kart (Battle Mode) (N64)
Goldeneye 007 (N64)