Resogun is the PS4’s top-rated title, and you can get it for free

It’s ironic that the highest rated game from the Playstation 4’s launch catalogue is a game, which, in concept, could have been designed in the mid-eighties. Independent Finnish developer Housemarque (Super Stardust HD, Super Stardust Delta) brings us Resogun, an arcade shooter that takes us back in time, while attempting to showcase the capabilities of the PS4. As with a game of this type, it’s difficult to stay hooked over an extended period of time, unless you can take it wherever you go, pull out your handheld or mobile phone, spend a few minutes having some mindless fun, subsequently putting it away to achieve things in real life. So, it’s perfect that Resogun is currently a free title for Playstation Plus members. But even at a price point of Rs.1,260 it can still be viewed as a bargain compared to other games currently available on the PS4.

For new PS4 owners, I can’t think of a better way to use the 14-day Playstation Plus trial membership. Resogun simply has to be the first thing you download (Don’t Starve comes in second, but you can still play that on PC, Mac and Linux). If you’ve played Housemarque’s previous games on either the PSP or PS Vita, you will already know what to expect. It is a side-scrolling arcade shooter with an abstract visual style. Think of it as an insanely over-the-top Gradius or R-Type inspired game. The goal of the game is simple: pick one of three fighter ships types with varying attributes (agility, boost and overdrive), kill aliens and save humans in super futuristic cities. Movement is achieved by moving the left analog stick, while you shoot with the right analog. Boosting allows you to quickly travel between the level, avoiding enemies or ramming into them to cause damage. Let go of the boost, however, and you’re toast if you’re completely surrounded and come into contact with anything less than friendly. The game recommends that you boost in bursts, but I found that boosting continuously yielded best results (in lower difficulty levels, at least). Each level is divided into three phases, at the end which is a boss battle of epic proportions.

In addition to overdrive (a heavy damage output energy beam that slows time and obliterates enemies), your ship will have a limited number of bombs which destroys everything on screen. This brings us to an interesting fact: If there’s one thing that’s screaming for your attention in Resogun (apart from the visual aesthetic), it’s the insane particle effects. The game runs smoothly at 60 frames-per-second at 1080p as you would expect, but the sheer amount of objects and debris on screen at one point of time is pretty crazy. Housemarque’s lead programmer Harry Kruger said last year that “Resogun definitely would not be possible on this generation of hardware”, referring to the PS3, and while that sounds plausible (because, y’know, he’s the developer), but it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Resogun run on a Playstation 3.

But there’s no arguing that the game is a nice little tech demo for the Playstation 4. More than the visual and processing capability, Resogun reminds us that the Dualshock 4 controller has speakers and is capable of online (co-operative) play, provided you have a PS Plus subscription, of course. The boss’ battles act as a constant reminder of things to come in the future (epic one-on-ones with Greek gods and demons alike, anyone?). Resogun also successfully raises the bar high enough for other first-party developers — a much needed bar-raising particularly after the relatively lukewarm response that Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack have received.