Remember the days of having your friends over for a LAN game of Halo or Goldeneye, and how the fact that you knew the map so well gave you the advantage of knowing exactly where to chuck a grenade? The ol’ screen cheating trick is not only permitted in this excellent new shooter from Samurai Punk, it’s at the foundation of the gameplay and crucial to your success.
Intro and Gameplay:
While there was no cinematic intro to speak of or story context to fuel your motivation, it mattered zilch because the beauty of the gameplay is all in the moment when you get the drop on your friends. Samurai Punk color coordinated areas of each map so that you can easily track your own location while tracking your opponent’s. It took me a good minute or so to get the feel for it, but that was mostly due to lack of familiarity in the layout of the map. While you do not ever see your opponent until you have shot them, the firing of ammunition is clearly visible, leaving a smoking gun as a tracer, giving you a second or two to see just where you’ve been shot from. What this mechanic creates are frenzied moments between opponents as they keep loading up and shooting into thin air until one of them lands a shot. It leaves some of it up to chance as well, adding another element of comedy to the combat.
Graphics and Sound:
The visuals of the Screencheat are purposefully basic so that you can easily learn the maps. In one area, a huge drawing of a Campbell’s Tomato Soup can hung in a hallway; an obvious point of visual reference. Objects like that are helpful cues to catch in your peripheral as you stalk your opponents and play into the fact that there is some actual skill involved in your approach. The music of the game had a great 16-bit era feel to it, adding to the wonderful cheesiness of the action as a whole. Great work from the composer of this title! The sound design appears as basic as the rest of the visual aspect, and it serves its full purpose. Beyond standard run-and-gun/power-up sounds it didn’t seem to call for anything more than what was present. There is a hilariously cheap looking rag doll physics demo in the loading screen to keep you asking wtf until the game begins.
Fun and Value:
At around $15 depending on what platform you purchase it for, you cannot go wrong for that price if you buy it for the purpose of playing it with friends. The three of us played for over an hour, laughing the whole time at the ridiculousness and unpredictability of what was happening and that was only playing 3 maps. We had much more of the game to explore. With three players entertained for at least one hour for $15, you can’t lose. And then of course there is the rest of the game to explore. I can guarantee this will be one you can always bust out at a party, and it will provide more laughs than you might normally get for that cheap.
Purchase this game. If you are having friends over, you have four controllers, and you have some time to hang out and enjoy some laughs, purchase this game. They had a specific concept of exploiting the screen cheating trick, and that concept was executed brilliantly. The Xbox One version was what we had tried out, and it ran without any problems. We had a good time playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Zombies, but when we switched over to Screencheat, we had nonstop laughs. It may lack the kind of depth in storytelling and sophistication you may find in other shooters, but that clearly was not the direction they were going for in this. It’s a great shooter for any age that can handle the FPS genre and I definitely want to high five the team at Samurai Punk for a job well done.