Since its release on Steam little over a year ago, Project downfall has received some well deserved attention with its gritty first-person hybrid giving you the chance to take control of our John Wick style protagonist in a Hotline Miami style dash and slash (or shoot) as you combine weapons, moves and drug-induced slow-motion effects to rid the city of some pretty scrummy inhabitants.
The game starts with our perfectly normal John Wick-a-like heading to work for another normal day, but on the way home, there’s some trouble on the tube and sure enough our anti-hero decided to slice, dice, shoot and main anyone and everyone in a quest to track down a serial killer and clean up the grimy streets.
Gameplay is delivered in short-sharp missions which can often only last a minute or two, before you’re sent back to your apartment to check in with your other half Olga, before heading back to the lift to start the next mission.
There’s a fast pace to the game which soon catches up with you after 4-5 missions and you’re suddenly faced with more than the usual 2 or 3 enemies shooting at you and while the game difficulty definitely ramps up at this point, it’s where you’re given a little more freedom, but ultimately it remains a fairly linear affair. There is multiple ending to explore, but these are mostly done so by making decisions within the game rather than fully exploring a level.
One decision that’s always at the back of your mind is how violent you want to be, you can stick with the bad guys, only attack those who are approaching you with a stern look on their face and make sure no innocents are harmed, but you can of course kick everyone in the teeth and while this might net you a nice weapon to start your murderous run, you could also attract unwanted attention making things a little (or a lot) more difficult.
To help you along the way there’s a variety of weapons from batons and knifes to pistols, shotguns and rifles, all of which behave as you might expect, weapons such as a SMG might have a high rate of fire at the cost of accuracy, while pistols wont pack the same punch as a precision rifle which will suffer much more limited ammo but when ammo does run out, you’ve always got the option of throwing your weapon to stun an enemy to give you time to swap weapons or close in and kick them in the teeth.
Another option are the drugs you’re constantly carrying around with you, these small pills give you a few seconds of slow-motion and super-power, allowing you to kick doors off their hinges, boot a barrel like a cannonball or hoof an enemy across the room.
As we touched on above, there’s some decisions to be made and the game does warn you that action shave consequences, so just like slapping that first guard to find a dozen police officers heading in your direction, killing innocents and taking too many drugs may well effect things further down the line too.
Coming in at around the 4-5 hour mark, it’s definitely not the longest game, but having those decisions and alternate endings to explore helps flesh things out a little and there’s also collectables, magazine and even little mini-arcade games to enjoy across your journey.
While the fast, frantic combo-based gameplay was definitely a highlight, the graphics, weren’t quite my chosen flavour. I’m a big fan of pixel-art games, and was expected something similar to Fashion Police Squad (reviewed this time last year), but characters and their animations where all far too flat and lifeless.
There was however an impressive number of video effects to give that CRT retro vibe, but like the characters, the locations felt a little too similar and while packed with atmosphere, they just didnt leave the same visual appeal.
Audio however is above par, which greatly helps set the atmosphere, and there’s plenty of audio clues whether its incoming enemies or their fire.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed my time with Project Downfall and it proves good value for a few evenings, but the familiar levels and sometimes too challenging gameplay might mean most wont have the patience to explore the multiple endings.
I’ve enjoyed my time with Project Downfall and it proves good value for a few evenings, but the familiar levels and sometimes too challenging gameplay might mean most wont have the patience to explore the multiple endings.