There have been some great superhero games in the past. Games like the Batman Arkham franchise, are based on an existing properties; with others like the Infamous series, a totally new IP. Both series are fantastic and have their own take on the genre. But it is fair to say many games that have tried to empower players with super powers often left gamers super disappointed. Along comes Megaton Rainfall, a game that promises to put the player in the shoes of a mysterious super being, one that is indestructible.
Our nameless hero is brought into being by some kind of omnipotent god, who speaks in riddles. Earth is under attack by a race of aliens that are seeking artifacts called Xenospheres, which contain incredible power. You are given very little information at the start of the game in regards to your existence, only that you were created with the sole job of protecting Earth from the invaders. As the game opens up, more information will be imparted by the god and the truth with be revealed. The game does present some interesting questions relating to humanity and faith, it is just a shame it is wrapped up in such a clunky game.
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
Move required: No
Price I’d pay: $7.99
Megaton rainfall is a FPS, one in which only the hero’s hands and feet are visible and he doesn’t like walking. Flying is the only mode of momentum here, and it’s where the first of the game’s problems arise. As a FPS, moving in three dimensions is incredibly difficult, especially as most of the game you will also be trying to aim at the alien craft weak spots (colored in red). These weak spots can often be tiny and obscured, and having to move in a three dimensional space all while trying to aim at them is incredibly frustrating. This is compounded by that fact at if you miss with your energy blasts, you will more than likely hit buildings and innocent humans, which in this game is your health bar. As you are pretty much indestructible and the aliens have no interesting in attacking you, the game’s failstate is the population of the city. A bar on the left of the screen represents how many people have died as a result of the alien attack (or from the hero misfiring). If the bar reaches zero, the game is over and it is back to the start of the mission. It’s a mechanic that was widely criticized when Superman Returns came out, and it is just as crappy now. I know that it is difficult to create a way for the player to feel a sense of threat if they are invincible, but surely a better way could have been found to create player agency.
Each mission introduces a new type of alien craft, each with their own attack patterns and weak points. Some try to destroy buildings, while others target the citizens of each city. Learning these patterns and exploiting the weaknesses are the only way to beat the aliens before they destroy everything, and I often found myself failing a mission one or two times before I got the patterns down. It made me feel like each new mission was more of a chore than an experience. Thankfully at the end of each mission your creator will gift you one of the Xenoshperes, which unlock new abilities like more powerful attacks, or talents like freezing time.
These power-ups work on their own cooldown timer, so use them sparingly. After a few missions the ability to fly is upgraded, and then suddenly the universe is open up to the player. It is a neat idea, but don’t expect to find lots of different life forms or exciting new worlds (a la No Mans Sky), instead it acts as a way to hunt Xenospheres and open up the story’s mysterious plot. Just be warned that if you do decide to go wandering around the universe, the game starts to beg you to return to the missions by flashing a prompt on the screen every second. The game also gets a little too real when it comes to the void of space, with the screen going completely dark in places, meaning that all you are staring at is an arrow directing to the next mission. Add to that a lack of a sense of speed and I found exploring space to be rather dull.
Megaton rainfall also has a VR mode, for those who own the headset. This is the full game and not just a separate mode, which would be commendable if it wasn’t for the fact that the controls feel even more cumbersome in VR mode, as well as causing me to feel sick after just a few minutes of playtime. I know that not everyone gets motion sickness, but those that do, be warned.
One thing that does stand out is the soundtrack. It did a great job of pumping me up and making me feel like a superhero, even if the gameplay didn’t. I am not sure if these are licensed tracks, or created solely for the game, but either way, each track seems to fit the theme of the game and the action on screen.
The idea of a superhero FPS sounds great on paper, but an intriguing story and a cool concept cannot save Megaton Rainfall from being a subpar action shooter; one that fails to realise the potential of the genre.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.