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Published August 12, 2017

It’s hard to stand out in a world full of independent games. Only AAA titles wait for full releases these days, opening up the doors for smaller developers to showcase their vision before the cost and time-consuming development process buries the game before consumers can get a taste. When an independent game does make it to the spotlight, the market is often flooded with games of a similar niche. The surge in survival games in the wake of games like The Forest and construction-based games following Minecraft seems to back this up, and in the spirit of Hotline Miami we have Geneshift, a top-down shooter.

Using a classic mixture of mouse and keyboard controls, most of the game is spent strafing with the directional keys while aiming with the mouse. The running and gunning aside, elements of stealth work their way into the game occasionally. The enemies have a cone of vision that is limited and rather strict while they are unaware of your presence, opening up the possibility to tackle each level in different ways. Knowing I can attempt the entire level with nothing but a knife, or go in guns blazing, is welcome.

A formidable armoury is at your disposal, and not just weapons. There are plenty of powerups and vehicles that are unlockable, and once unlocked they can be purchased at each checkpoint. As you respawn at previous checkpoints, this means that if the open area you were trying to tackle wasn’t the right environment for a shotgun, you can change it up with a sniper rifle. Or buy a car and put your foot down – running over enemies is brilliantly satisfying. To supplement different play styles, there is also a skill tree with plenty to unlock.

The level design is interestingly open world, but in order to progress you must reach checkpoints scattered around the map in order. To clear the checkpoint, enemies in the area have to be cleared. It’s a simple method, lending itself well to boss fights and hordes. The enemies around the map use the same powerups that are available for your own use, making them feel varied and powerful.

Every level has a worldwide leaderboard, so if you’re not the kind of person who wants to jump into the multiplayer scene, you can compete against high scores. The multiplayer itself appears robust, an arcade-y way to spend time with a couple of friends.

Geneshift is a fleshed out game that gets deeper the more you play it. If you’re looking for half an hour of stress relief, it’s got you covered with plenty of aggressive gunplay. If you’re looking for a fun multiplayer game to play online or LAN, it’s all there. If you want to be the best, the top of the leaderboard, you could sink hours into Geneshift and have plenty of fun climbing the ladder. With constant updates and good developer support, I can see a bright future ahead.

Geneshift is in Early Access on Steam for $9.99 USD. For more information, visit the Steam page.

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