As with Nintendo, Sony has been at the forefront of producing great console-exclusive titles that rank among the best in the business, and one only needs to take a glance at Uncharted, Ratchet and Clank, or Heavy Rain to see what we mean by that. However, when the time came to release the PlayStation 4 back in 2013, the line-up from Sony only represented a former shell of what we had come to expect from the Japanese giant. Before it had even released, Knack had been doomed as a failure, and Killzone: Shadow Fall looked like a vast departure of what actually made the first games great. Nevertheless, among the mediocrity, a shining star arose in the form of Housemarque's Resogun, which triumphantly showcased innovation as well as beautiful graphics.
Three titles later and the time has come to judge Housemarque's latest project, Matterfall. Announced during the underwhelming Paris Games Week of 2015 with a generic CGI trailer, one which in no way resembled the final project, we were far from impressed. As such we can happily announce the fact that Matterfall is one of the most entertaining games we've had the pleasure of experiencing in 2017.
Even though the game does have a story, it's pretty much pure nonsense and only functions as a setup for the game world. In Matterfall you take control of Avalon, a freelance super soldier fighting the good fight to liberate Earth from dangerous enemies. Accordingly, the game keeps reminding you of this fact due to the player having to sit through a three-minute cutscene every time the game is turned on. A minor but very annoying detail.
On the gameplay side of things, Matterfall follows in the footsteps of Resogun and delivers great mechanics and fast-paced action. It plays like a fairly traditional Metroidvania/Contra-esque game, which will probably confuse the majority of players who thought the initial reveal trailer looked interesting. This is, however, a positive direction taken by the devs since the style and angles of the game fit together perfectly.
Avalon controls amazingly and jumping from platform to platform whilst blowing up enemies is, in our opinion, a perfect mix of beauty and utter chaos; it looks and feels phenomenal. Best of all is the simplicity the game offers, while never feeling like anything was truly missing from the gameplay. We would say that the jumping command is weirdly placed in R1 instead of the obvious X button, and beyond that, some gameplay elements can get a little bit tedious, but the overall experience exceeded expectations.
Besides the normal standard projectiles, a few more explosive variations exist as well. These are executed with L2 (another strange placement in a game such as this) and most automatically recharge after a while. It all blends well together and after having gathered enough points it's possible to perform special explosive attacks too.
The setting is best described as a mix of Coruscant from Star Wars and Mikami's Vanquish - basically a ton of tall glass buildings and floating objects. It's on the periphery of being original, but is still very well done nonetheless. Where Matterfall succeeds the most is the rendering of different particles in the game, as Housemarque masterfully uses the manpower of the PlayStation 4 to create an incredibly beautiful festivity of fireworks and jaw-dropping explosions. Executing the special attacks looks especially good in this regard.
With Matterfall, Housemarque demonstrates their ability to deliver solid gameplay with an easy approach appealing to a broad audience. The level design doesn't break any new ground, yet manages to stay sufficiently fresh and the beautiful explosions deliver the final selling point, and we enjoyed it thoroughly as a result.
Loading next content