14/12/2019

๐Ÿšช๐Ÿ’ฅ Door Kickers: Action Squad | REVIEW | PS4 | "I Am The Kicker of a Thousand Doors" ๐Ÿงจ๐Ÿšช #GameDev #IndieGames

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I’m a big fan of well-made games that have a tongue firmly in cheek whilst being backed up by fun gameplay. In this regard, Door Kickers: Action Squad delivers shovelfuls of gaming gold.

A slightly different type of game to what I was initially expecting and all the better for it.
A 2D side-scrolling action game featuring chunky pixelated visuals (good), I was expecting Door Kickers: Action Squad to be a pure blastathon of baddies but it’s subtly more cerebral than that, only really revealing its true addictiveness and replayability after a couple of hours.

Although there are various mission goals, they all pretty much boil down to booting your way through the current location and gunning down bad guys whilst rescuing hostages, all to the backing of a milky, muscular 80’s wailing guitar soundtrack (again, good).

Whilst this may seem mindless, the scoring and item unlock/levelling up system really draws you in. Yes, you could choose the breacher -a walking wall with a shotgun and boom your way through the level, killing everyone in your way with relative ease…but those spicy shotgun blasts can easily take out civilian hostages, meaning you’ll never get that golden three-star completion of the level.

Maybe it’s better to choose a more subtle character such as a shield-bearer or an FBI agent to give more tactical advantage…but would they give you the firepower to take out the more heavily armoured foes or do you need yet another change of strategy for this particular mission?

This only ramps up as you make your way through the game, from street-level thugs to cartels, zombies and even an endless tower mode, there’s a surprising amount of gameplay on offer here.
The game I was most reminded of when playing Door Kickers: Action Squad was an Amiga title called Fire Force, it gave off a really satisfying vibe of subtle strategy whilst also feeling weighty and fun which is exactly what I felt when playing this.

As I made my way through the first levels, kicking open doors - much as the title heavily implies (you can also blast them open with heavy weaponry or charges, once unlocked) - and carefully finding key cards to open those pesky un-kickable doors as I raided drug dens, factories and dockside warehouses, I was getting to grips with the game. Yes, admittedly a few wayward shotgun blasts took out some hostages but hey-ho, you can’t make an omelette without fracturing a few families.

When I completed the level with a one-star rating, however…I didn’t want to move onto the next, I NEEDED those sweet, sweet three stars and so I’d change character, spend my upgrade points extremely wisely on perhaps a pistol with more accuracy so I could spare the lives of those innocent hostages and then re-try the level, all the while accompanied by those wailing Miami Vice guitar lines.

This time it was different…I could drop through the ceiling but the dude with a knife may rush me and kill me before I drop a flashbang and get everyone safe…but if I head through the door, I could take a couple out quickly with my machine gun but what about the guy in the suicide bomb vest? I found myself mulling over the options available, really getting hips deep in this deceivingly saucy game.
It is a testament to the design that, although there is a two-player mode (which is awesome) I actually ended up enjoying the game so much that I couldn’t wait for my usual co-op companion to come around to play together, I was putting Door Kickers: Action Squad on the second I got home for a half-hour blast every evening. Not so much making progress in new areas but replaying levels to see how smoothly I could run through them, not something I normally do but my word, I couldn’t get enough of it, I yearned to eventually get 100% completion, something I haven’t felt the need to do in a title since Fallout 3.
Aside from your choice of weapon and gear, the kills and rescues in the game fill up a bar at the top of the screen which give you in-mission bonuses ranging from a refill of your back-up weapon / grenades to an extra life (you only get one!) or sniper support which can be crucial in some missions. When you see a load of thugs milling around the top of a ladder wielding machine guns and knives, those three sniped headshots from off-screen can be more beautiful than a love letter from Patrick Wilson scented with Hai-Karate aftershave.
There are some issues, however. Nothing in life is perfect, not even Patrick Wilson (I look at you, ‘In the Tall Grass’) and the frame rate here does oddly stutter sometimes at points which seems a bit strange as this really should be a rock-solid 60 fps title with its particular visual style.

I also found the backgrounds occasionally distracting. In the very first level, you can decorate a Christmas tree for no reason at all (Natch) and this touch of quirkiness doesn’t exist anywhere else in the game, with the vast majority of background items being distinctly un-interactable.

Whilst this does give the game a certain arcade simplicity, it would have been nice to have some more touches like this as the myriad computers and desks feel like they should be rifled through for extra goodies. Also, the inclusion of two/four-player competitive modes would have been a thing of absolute beauty.
In Summary, Door Kickers: Action Squad is shaping up to be one of my games of the year. There’s a sense of fun and depth to it that just caught me completely off-guard.

I thought that I would smash through it in a couple of hours with a friend but I keep going back to it to ace every level and unlock as much as possible.

The different characters have genuine variety and it works just as well in two-player mode. If you are a fan of 2D action games with an 80’s throwback vibe much like the similarly great Broforce, this is a must-purchase.

Big, not-so-dumb fun.

Right, I’m off to kick some doors.
๐Ÿ’ง❄️ RATING: ICE COOL ❄️๐Ÿ’ง


Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

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