Reviews - Updated on April 13, 2022

The release of each new Housemarque game has always been like a holiday for me. These Finnish developers are the best at creating both spectacular and insanely addictive arcade games that you want to spend time in again and again. And this year they released two games at once: Nex Machina and Matterfall. And if the first turned out to be almost a perfect top-down shooter, then the second …Matterfall game review

Enemies shatter into small pieces, as in other Housemarque projects.

pale shadow

The plot is still sketchy: the main character, Avalon Darrow, dressed in a protective suit, saves the inhabitants of a fictional town from a crowd of creepy creatures. This time, the so-called smart matter took up arms against humanity, forcing robots to attack their creators. The whole story is presented in the form of two videos at the beginning and at the end of the game, and the authors will not share any details of the universe. By and large, these videos could not have been added at all – nothing would have changed.

Gameplay Matterfall is a platform game with all the details familiar to Housemarque games. The protagonist runs, jumps, shoots in all directions at the behest of the right stick. For the destruction of opponents, points are issued that fill the combo bar – the higher the number, the more points accumulate for each action. Everything is done according to the template, and it is assumed that the player will replay the levels over and over again in order to achieve the best result. But there is no desire to do this.

As it turned out, simply transferring the elements of an arcade shooter into a platformer is not enough. In Resogun and Nex Machina, the fear of getting hurt and knocking down combos is related not only to the number of enemies, but also to the limited space. You cannot fly away on a boat or run away from a crowd of enemies, because there are the same number of opponents in a couple of meters. In Matterfall, as the heroine moves from side to side, she always manages to retreat and shoot at the robots from afar. Speed ​​is not rewarded here, but, on the contrary, slowness is encouraged – even the combo counter does not decrease if you stand still.

Sometimes there are situations when you find yourself locked between dozens of dangerous pieces of iron, but in these cases, the freezing jerk saves. After one click, Darrow rushes in a given direction, making motionless everyone she flew past. This is the only original idea in Matterfall, which is both a big plus and a serious minus. On the one hand, it makes the banal shooting of villains more fun – freezing a whole gang of flying balls does not get bored until the finale. But on the other hand, because of it, many skirmishes become extremely simple, because you can simply escape from the zone crowded with enemies and pour lead on everyone from a safe place.

Matterfall game review

Destroying robots, the heroine accumulates a scale of rage – you press the square and you become stronger for a couple of seconds.

It also makes no sense to start the levels again for the sake of secrets, since you find almost everything during the first passage. In Nex Machina, a huge number of bonuses were hidden, due to which there was a desire to replay locations with greater care. And everything had to be looked for right during the shooting of opponents, trying to both run away from the crowd of robots, and evacuate all the inhabitants in time, and not knock down the combo counter.

There are only two types of secrets in Matterfall: people locked in cocoons, and purple pear-like caches with bonus points. A blinking icon in the corner hints at the presence of a person nearby, but even without it, it is not difficult to guess the location of the victim – just, if you need to run forward according to the plot, you should try to go back, up or down. Not once did I have to restart levels because of missed people – everyone ended up in obvious places. Well, I collected caches only in the first world – in the rest, they apparently sometimes merge with the background and are easy to miss.

More unnecessary

Perhaps the search for people was deliberately made such an elementary task, because when they are saved, they give additional types of weapons or passive improvements. But they make very little sense. The heroine’s arsenal can be replenished with homing projectiles, a shotgun, a railgun and a grenade, and these are such “powerful” items that you forget about their existence immediately after receiving them. Sometimes you use a shotgun against “fat” enemies, and a grenade can be useful in a fight with “bosses”. But even without this, there are no problems, so it’s worth collecting weapons only for a trophy on PSN.

Passive upgrades are the same unnecessary option. The most useful of these is the main weapon damage boost, but it is given out almost at the very end, when Matterfall is already starting to get boring. Before that, you get, for example, the opportunity to more often knock out spheres of matter from opponents – these are large blue balls that can be blown up with an additional gun along with nearby robots. Or you unlock a skill that allows you to activate these spheres when dashing. You can also increase the health pool, but on the fourth difficulty level (which is not available on the first playthrough), this modifier does not work.

Matterfall game review

Such moments only seem difficult – a jerk saves you from all troubles.

As a result, it is not entirely clear why waste time on the game at all. There is no fun in chasing points and striving to win the leaderboards. It is very easy to look for secrets, and there is no sense from them. Additional modes, in addition to the campaign, are not presented at all – neither you have endless waves, nor the same tasks, but with sophisticated conditions. This could be forgiven if Matterfall did not consist of twelve levels, three of which are “boss” battles. Content is enough for two to three hours. And the differences between the first and third worlds are insignificant – there are few new enemies, and the old ones just become a little stronger.

The most annoying thing is that the game is extremely easy even on Veteran. I see no point in going through the creations of this studio at low difficulty levels, so I immediately launched the highest among the available ones – and almost never experienced problems. The heroine has two lives left, and “healers” fall out of about every third opponent. Given that often two dozen robots fly at the player, it will not be difficult to quickly freeze them and shoot them in a second. In extreme cases, you can simply hide by sneaking away with the help of jerks. Surely on the “Master”, where each injury leads to death, difficulties will arise many times more. But the main problem there will not be the fragility of the heroine, but management.

It is very difficult to get used to the layout invented by the developers – it is too tricky compared to Resogun and Nex Machina. On L1 you make a dash, on R1 you jump (you will try to press X more than once even at the end of the game), with the right stick you fire normal projectiles, L2 is responsible for firing from a cannon that creates matter. Its sole purpose is to make the transparent blue platforms and walls solid to walk on or block the path of opponents. An absolutely idiotic and contrived possibility, especially annoying during difficult sequences in which you jump from side to side and try to escape by holding four buttons at the same time to draw blocks on the fly. And, this gun also activates elevators, of which there are only three or four in the game.

Matterfall game review

It is not clear why hiding places are called objects that are hard to miss.

***

After watching the credits of Matterfall, one gets the feeling that Housemarque just wanted to get rid of the game as soon as possible. We made twelve levels, sketched out a couple of secrets, came up with a few additional abilities – and in the PlayStation Store. Probably, the studio planned to part with Sony and completely go into independent development – she published Nex Machina on her own and even released it on PC. Or it’s time for the Finns to take a break before it’s too late.

Pros: original idea with a freezing jerk; amazing music by Ari Pulkkinen; intense boss fights.

Cons: The scoring and combo system does not fit well into a leisurely platformer; the game ends before it starts; it is very easy to look for secrets, and the passage itself does not cause difficulties; zero replay value and no additional modes.

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