There are a lot of developers out there being inspired by the classic games of old. And that’s a good thing, considering a majority of AAA developers seem to be ignoring said classics in favor of new AAA-level games. Not that that’s a bad thing, as that creates a balance with these indie folks that caters to a specific audience, while reminding us of the days gone by.
The latest example of this is Andrade Games’ Sturmfront: The Mutant War, a top-down twin-stick shooter where it’s you against the alien world. The game has its quirks, particularly the annoying lack of any kind of co-op (novel for a game like this – just look at Contra), but it’s a thrill ride that’s available for a decent price. Not to mention it’s got the kind of soundtrack that’s got some Doom Eternal-level inspiration behind it.
In the game, you portray Siegfried von Hammerstein, a cyborg that has a current mission in life – lay waste to alien invaders. And considering a big invasion is well underway, he’s hungry to clean house.
Hammerstein will be able to switch between two weapons – a rifle of choice, ideal for laying waste to smaller mutants; and a flamethrower. While it has limited fuel, it’s perfect for destroying alien spawning points (basically large aliens with spewing mouths) before they can do any further damage.
The game’s controls are simple, but effective. Left stick controls movement, right stick controls where you aim, and the right shoulder button is used to shoot. If you prefer, you can also use the face buttons on the right hand side for shooting, for those that prefer to go a little old school.
There’s definitely some Smash TV/Total Carnage-inspired lunacy here, and it’s ideal for fans that love that sort of design. The gameplay doesn’t let up, and there’s something cool about being able to effectively take down enemies while they try to kill you. It would’ve been nice to have a “dodge” feature, like in other games, but it’s not too bad. The only downside is that most of the story is forgettable, as you get bits and pieces of it from survivors as you go along. Albeit it takes a backseat to the action, so whatever.
Though the levels are short, they’re jammed with enemies, and that brings the game’s colorful design into play. It looks wonderful, inspired by the arcade and Amiga classics of old, and doesn’t let up with its world-ending aesthetic. It’s also great to see the weapons at play here, including a spread laser that could easily match up with Contra’s classic gun on a good day. There are also some good boss fights on display here, which will force you to work to survive. Fortunately, you can tone down the difficulty a little bit if it becomes too much.
What really stands out is the soundtrack. The heavy metal-inspired tunes are excellent and blare throughout, making you feel like you should continue laying waste to alien scum. The sound effects are minimal, but work where needed here.
Again, where Sturmfront lets down is the fact it’s just a single player affair. If the developers at Andrade had just added a few more players to the mix – or at least a two-player co-op option at a higher difficulty – it could’ve mixed things up tremendously.
As it stands, though, Sturmfront isn’t too shabby. What it lacks in overall length and features, it more than makes up for with old-school carnage, a ripping soundtrack and delightfully chaotic visuals. You’ll want to dig in and enjoy it in spurts, just to ease that stress away with one of the most metal cyborgs out there. Hopefully we’ll see a sequel with more loaded content down the road. Hammerstein can’t do it all himself, y’know.
(Sturmfront is available now for PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PC!)