In Try/Buy/Wait, Checkpoint writers review a game and give you a recommendation on whether to Try the game via demos/buy-and-refund, Buy the masterpiece of a game immediately, or Wait until the game is on sale – letting you know if a game is ultimately worth your money and time.
Your Writer: BChan
Top 3 Favorite Games: NieR, NieR: Automata, Monster Hunter: World
Favorite Genre: Hack-n-slash multiplayer RPG
Recently Finished: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Assassin’s Creed – The Fate of Atlantis, Katana Zero, Mordhau
Currently Playing: The Division 2, Final Fantasy XV, Remnant: From the Ashes, KillSquad
Bio: Lifelong gamer since 1999 with experience across all platforms and genres from RPGs, to MMOs, to FPSs and a Steam library of 400+. Always seeking to appreciate the perfect integration of gaming visuals with BGM.
I first saw Killsquad at the E3 2019 Indiecade booth, and thought to myself, “this looks like a game with a lot of potential” – and having now spent time playing the game’s Early Access release on Steam, I stand by that statement. Killsquad is a visually and audibly beautiful game – it features a crisp and clean art style partnered by high-resolution and deeply textured graphical component. Gameplay-wise it is a solid 2.5-D, 4-player co-op game akin to Gauntlet Legends featuring well-designed characters made unique by their play-styles and variable character growth that encourages potential team play. For an early-access game it has the right foundations to grow into a very strong product, though its current content might not be worth its price tag.
For the time being, Killsquad does not have any real narrative. The only concrete thing we’re provided comes from the Steam description of “bounty hunters raid planets for glory” in addition to the brief character intro cards and mission description cards. As such, the game’s driving force will surround completing missions/”contracts” that grant your bounty hunter character more glory. Regardless, Killsquad seems to be a game focused on being “a hardcore action RPG” and thusly emphasizing its gameplay more so than developing a strong narrative, understandable as its roadmap mentions little of adding anything of the sort.
In terms of gameplay, Killsquad does very well in setting up a traditional 2.5-D action RPG. The game currently grants access to 4 alien/robotic heroes each with unique characteristics:
- Troy The Gunslinger – an assassin dual-wielding guns with skills including a multi-enemy-piercing shot, bullets that mark enemies for auto-targeting, and a shot that pulls enemies together dubbed the “gravity shot”.
- Kosmo The Revenant – a zombie reminiscent of Jason with a large hammer with AOE skills including swinging his hammer around a la “spin-to-win”, a heavy stomp that deals damage in a certain radius, and a “berserk taunt” that draws in enemies while increasing Kosmo’s attack stat.
- Cass The Warrior Nun – the sword-wielding warrior with skills including shuriken-throwing, invisibility, and teleportation.
- Zero The Sawbones – a laser-gun wielding robot with medical/trap-laying abilities featuring skills including a boosted projectile, a triggerable laser trap, and a droppable healing kit usable by teammates.
With each hero, players are able to equip new weapons with different effects and two accessory slots that add boosts to the player character’s stats (health, attack, defense) much like a traditional action RPG. At the time of writing, different weapons merely vary the character’s gear level – dubbed “Vector” – while accessory items do the same but give additional boosts to stats, though accessories of different vector levels will still give the same amount of stat boost. Characters are further customizable from a solely aesthetic standpoint via their head, body, and legs.
With each unique playstyle of the four characters, the game’s combat feels like it definitely follows the action RPG archetype very well. From enemy balancing to interesting boss battles, the game keeps you on your toes and constantly moving and managing your available skills on top of your “roll” which is a limited universal movement skill serving as a “get-out-of-jail” move. The only lacking part of the combat lies in the player and enemy feedback whereby there are minimal to none physical indicators such as staggering or audio cues affecting either player or enemy when either takes damage, making it arduous to manage one’s health.
With each mission, players restart from level 1, and by progressing through the contract gain levels that allow players to upgrade their skills into better versions with new effects. Similar to the rogue-lite genre, level progression is reset with each new mission, meaning playstyle for each character has to be rebuilt within each contract, though the character’s Vector level stays with them, which allows players to continue electing higher-Vector missions.
VERDICT: WAIT FOR SALE
At its core, Killsquad is a very foundationally strong game that truthfully follows the action RPG architecture. It is only lacking in content at the moment, which contributes to it lacking a populated player-base, making finding others to play with relatively difficult. However, that is not to say that the game shines more or less with or without other players, but it is a testament that without more content Killsquad still feels bare-bones, though the bones are notably strong. For its current price tag of $24.99, I personally cannot recommend this game, though for the sake of seeing what this game can become and what it can potentially provide, I would recommend keeping an eye for a 50% or-more sale on the game before picking it up.