Friday, January 20, 2017

Indie Impressions - Cold Vengeance

Cold Vengeance

Now Available on Steam

Developed by  Renegade Sector Games



Cold Vengeance is a gun-blazing action-arcade romp through  a deliberately polygonal, block-y and hazy look to it that makes it reminiscent of late 90's 3D action games for the N64, PSX, and Saturn. This retro-flavored and post-apocalyptic appearance in tandem with the forward moving, almost on-rails nature of the shooting bring me back to what I loved most of the era.

An Americana lovechild between Fist of the North Star post-apocalyptic wasteland sensibilities and Sin and Punishment gritty rail-gunning low-poly N64 age badassery, the intuitive weapon combining of the iconic Gunstar Heroes with the forward-pressing level progression of Shock Troopers all wrapped in a hilariously satirical romp rife with action and macho-fueled patriotism that only a post-2016 America could truly be deserving of.

Cold Vengeance is entertaining and funny as hell, it's a nostalgic blast to play, a trip to look at, and it takes it's influences from the best-of-the-best using a formula from the golden-age of games that has stood the test of time.

A part of an ongoing series, the game is a sort of spiritual successor to the developer's previous top-down retro action adventure, Venusian Vengeance, which though I admittedly haven't played is now at the top of my to-play list just because of the awesomely over-the-top action satire in the plot here in Cold Vengeance.

What I love about Cold Vengeance is how well each setting is communicated through such a raw polygonal style, every level really feels like a retro-flavored adventure that only the raddest of 80's and 90's action movies could deliver. The streets are as cold and oppressive as anything else in post-2016 America, and you really feel like it's your sole duty to rid the country of the authoritarian goons of the Canadian Army who now threaten your country's freedom.

The variety of areas keeps you on your feet and kept me hooked into the game to see where I was headed next, greeted by even more outlandish locales than the last. From fighting scorpions in painted red deserts, to mind-controlled apes in wild and primal jungles, fighting from psychedelic log-rafts in a surreal color-gradient forest and even animatronic dinosaurs in an amusement park.

The music is very lo-fi but also with strangely captivating melodies, like so many of the sounds you'd hear from old Japanese arcade cabinets. The sound effects, also, have a memorable grittiness like something you'd hear from an old Genesis game. The Hollywood movie satire through the dialogue of our masculine protagonist is consistently hilarious and beautiful, with moments like Sgt. Jon Dagger declaring stoically that he's already in a committed relationship... with America. There's also even an achievement which I believe may be referencing Guitar Wolf's "Jet Generation", which would explain the very punk rock and DIY nature of the game.

One thing I'd really like to see added to the already slick gameplay of Cold Vengeance is some form of a dodge or dash mechanic. Sometimes charging through the alleyways of a dead America while grenades pour out of the windows of abandoned apartment complexes can get a little hectic, and Sgt. Dagger just isn't quite nimble enough for me to maneuver out of harms way.

Even after a good four hours of playthrough, I had only beaten one route of the game with many alternate levels from alternate routes greyed out of my progression. The amount of secret areas and hidden detours really give Cold Vengeance a lot of replayability and give players more than enough reason to charge through the adventure again.

This was a seriously unexpected gem for me, and I know it will be for like-minded retro enthusiasts too. It's a shame many will likely be turned away by the crude throwback style of the visuals but for those with their curiosity piqued by the appearance, absolutely take the plunge because it's a fun and chaotic trip with a lot of weird variety.

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