๐Ÿš™ Gearshifters | Switch | Review | 8/10 | "A very smooth and addictive genre mash-up" ๐Ÿš™ @NumskullGames #IndieGames #GameDev

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I’ve had my peepers on Gearshifters since being introduced to it via a Numskull (the publisher of Gearshifters) presentation on YouTube earlier in the year.

The thought of combining top-down vehicular combat with the style of a classic horizontal shooter really unbuckled my trousers and folded them neatly in a drawer.

When the review copy was sent over, I was a little apprehensive as the previous game we had covered from Numskull – RICO: London – hadn’t been scored too well by my colleague, luckily those worries were unfounded as Gearshifters quickly held me captive in its cleverly designed, moreish, skidmark-laden world.

You are a Gearshifter. A driver that delivers needed goods to groups of survivors spread across post-apocalyptic Europe. Beginning with just a basic machine gun and some tasty driving skills, you are given a destination by your craggy-but-loving boss and set out to get the mission done whilst remaining in one piece.  

From your Gearshifters HQ, you can – through collected cash and ‘shards’ – unlock an array of armour and armaments for your car, alongside different colourings, wheels and the like. The really cool stuff, though, is obtained from destroying the various bosses that block your way.

I wasn’t sure what approach the game would take but rogue-like elements are in play here and used incredibly well. You’ll take a crack at a run – which will feature a horde of semi-randomised vehicles from whichever gang runs that territory – and embark on a multiple-stage run to get through all the enemies and keep enough health up to take on the boss at the end of the level.

The stages can get intense. As your main weapon tends to shoot straight, until you unlock certain abilities and secondary weapons, the initial aim is on-the-fly strategy, dealing with whatever the game throws at you. This only gets more complicated until you are slamming on the brakes, angling in firepower and taking out mine-dropping helicopters whilst banging out oil-slicks as your auto-turret deals with the henchmen that are surrounding you all the while screaming in and out of lanes of chain-gun fire. Good.

There were moments where I’d be playing in handheld mode – the game runs beautifully in both handheld and docked modes - and things would get so tense that I’d actually stand up from my seat. My health bar would be flashing like my nan after six G&T’s, my bonnet aflame and no ammo left in my secondary weapon as I inched ever closer to the end of the map section...my guns overheating, enemies surrounding me and closing….and I’d just scrape by.

It’s exhilarating stuff.

Following the chance to choose your equipment at the start of the stage, in-between each road segment, you are able to select one of three bonuses, some of which can cost cash or ammo. Do you re-supply your secondary weapon because you know there’s a boss coming up, or do you take that sweet, sweet 20% health boost?

Further tactics are added in how enemies randomly drop bonuses, schematics for weaponry, health and ammo. You can specifically equip items that force money or health drops but at the cost of removing a really saucy bit of kit that you’ve just spent eight grand on. I liked this feature a lot, the balance feels right and I often found myself flitting between different combinations to try and get the right setup for the specific run I was on – or rather, hoped I would be on.

It’s not a game you’ll breeze through, either. It can get tough quickly and the money earned on multiple failed runs allows you to boost up your car for a better chance on the next one.

Luckily, the game is so compulsive that I almost enjoying being destroyed just so I could get straight back in and try out different setups. The visuals are smooth and the music is subtly brilliant in that it keeps the energy levels up and the juices flowing without seeming intrusive, a nice move in these semi rogue-like games where the danger of repetition always lurks, especially in terms of music and grind.

Physical versions of Gearshifters are available for both Switch and PS4 in a standard edition as well as a collector’s edition, which contains - art cards, OST and a clothing patch.

Available from - www.numskullgames.com

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