Trepang2 had one of the most promising demos ever released, and thankfully, the game has finally come out of development and is a fully fleshed out product. Well, somewhat fleshed out product. It’s a short experience, but it is definitely fun. And it even manages to have a few wildly memorable moments in its very short runtime.
Short but Splashy
This brand new FPS title also happens to end incredibly quickly, clocking in at around 5 hours of playtime if you just burst through the main missions, even on what is called the “Hard” difficulty. Thankfully the game isn’t one of those shockingly overpriced AAA games, and there’s more than enough content to come back to, with there being a good number of side missions and the combat simulator allowing for lots of replayability. The missions the game does have are rather memorable, despite being bland in some of their designs.
Each mission goes to show how much more this game could have been, with some generic yet well-done horror sections, taking after F.E.A.R, but lacks the creeping dread and terror found in other titles it attempts to emulate. One Backrooms-tinged level does prove itself to be a creepy experience, and another earlier level does have some monsters to make things just a tad bit grosser, but none are as scary as one would come to hope. Burdened by bullet sponges and poor stealth sections, the monsters never go past being mildly intriguing, a major sign of the game’s missed potential. The mission objectives never quite move past the standard point-to-point system, with the occasional “plant explosive device” thrown into the mix. Missions that attempt to go past simple fun shooting often don’t explore their interesting aspects enough to make them truly memorable.
Where else the game falls flat is in its overly serious handling of the story. In its emulation of classic FPS titles, it lacks the personality that made older eras so special. Playing as Subject 106, you are a silent menace who tears through everyone, some nameless guy that everyone acknowledges is a silent menace who will tear through everyone. A decent plot twist towards the end doesn’t make up for a story that is forgettable, made worse by numerous collectibles that aren’t too interesting to check out. Plot isn’t at all important to the enjoyment of the game, but interesting ways or even interesting dialogue to tell its mildly interesting story would’ve added more to the game. There are bits of fun dialogue here and there, but none of them bring any personality to any of the proceedings.
A Blast of a Time
Despite those issues, Trepang2’s combat and gameplay are what makes this title more than worth playing at least a little bit more than the main missions provided, with smooth, fluid
gameplay along with decent, though repetitive, enemy variety. Enemies are usually eliminated by a single headshot, but it is usually pretty difficult to land an easy one. Some enemies make it especially tough by wearing helmets that will waste a lot of precious ammo, ammo that is surprisingly hard to come by, leading to the player needing to improvise and steal from some of the many corpses that are littering the ground from previously living enemies. That, or using the stupidly fun melee option to stun an enemy, which can also allow you to throw them, optionally with a grenade attached to get more than one kill.
Movement is limited only by a stamina bar that refills at a reasonable rate, and while you aren’t sliding and sprinting around like it’s Titanfall 2, though it is slightly reminiscent of that, you also aren’t as slow and immobile as in Homefront: The Revolution, finding a very sweet spot that allows for strategic sliding around the little combat arenas. The stamina bar is a bit quick to drain though, so the aforementioned strategic sliding does come into play here. Thankfully, there’s lots of cover spread out throughout the combat arenas. It’s clear some of it is meant for stealth, but unfortunately, stealth is just not that viable, at least on the difficulties that aren’t impossible.
Tricks and Tools
Crouching is slow, and the cloak mechanic is rather useless most times. I could count on one hand the amount of times it really came into play and got me out of a tight situation. The oddly long time it takes to regenerate does not compensate for how quickly it drains, and
once you think you’re safe, it will run out, and you’ll have to start running. It is best used to start off and kill one enemy or at least take them hostage, but then again, gunshots would have about the same efficacy. Fortunately, the bullet time tool is something you’ll find yourself relying on for about the entire game. It is always one of the most useful tools to have in any game with a gun, and here, where the screen will become blurry with lights and blood, it is vital to land that one headshot to eliminate a nameless enemy. It doesn’t regenerate automatically, relying on kills to do so, and fortunately, it isn’t very hard to get them without the bullet time.
You will have a few options for throwables, from regular grenades, to incendiaries. These all prove themselves useful once the enemies bunch up, usually when they just barge into the area, though the throwing knives don’t always kill in one throw which is very disappointing, making them one of the weakest options for combat. The explosives however are the ones that will prove to be the most useful most of the time.
The guns on the other hand are more than capable. The pistol, despite not being anywhere near as powerful as the other weapons, is great for its precision, allowing ammo to be saved where other guns might be more erratic and take more shots to kill. Shotguns are also lifesavers in numerous situations where enemies come up really quickly to knock them back. Each weapon has a good enough kick to it that gives them a bit of weight, and are all useful under pretty much every circumstance, save for one boss fight against an enemy in the air. It isn’t too difficult to see how that would be difficult for someone using shotguns primarily, as I was during my initial playthrough, but weapons are easily scattered around so picking one up will still ensure you’re a deadly force to be reckoned with. Thankfully, the rest of the boss fights aren’t as restrictive with the weapons you use, and though they aren’t all anything too great, they’re serviceable enough. Weapon customization similar to the ones seen in games like Crysis is also present, and it helps alter some weapons drastically. Character customization is also present, but don’t expect it to be that interesting because of the first-person perspective. My character’s red shoes did stand out though. Dual wielding weapons also manages to feel great, though not as open as titles like Wolfenstein: The New Colossus. Here, you’re only allowed to use one weapon per dual wield, so you’re unable to have the gun combos other than the same weapon. It is a shame as combining assault rifles with pistols or submachine guns with shotguns is always a blast in any game that normally allows it. That being said, even if you can’t fire both weapons at the same time due to the melee being the same as what is normally the ADS or the second weapon, it is fine enough. The game not having any ADS is fine, and cheats would enable the ability to aim down sights is unlocked as a cheat, but with the speed, you’ll more than likely be within range of enemies so much so that it would be rather unnecessary to have it anyways unless you’re sniping from far away.
Paint the Walls Red
The technical performance of the game is shockingly good, a lot more optimized and accessible for gamers with lower-end PCs like mine compared to AAA contemporaries that are steadily requiring more and more upgrades just to keep up. Even then, the graphics and performance are mostly great, with the occasional glitch not being enough to make the experience worse. Once though, there was a weird texture glitch occurring during one of the game’s rarer horror levels, and it made me think there was an enemy when in fact it was just a bug. Ragdoll physics for enemy corpses and bodies are present, and are definitely fun to break. I have had some fun throwing enemies into walls and letting them get stuck there while I shoot up their friends before going back to them, and being able to toss an enemy high into the air refuses to get old no matter how many times you try it. Blowing up the enemies in gory fashion on a GeForce GTX 1650 manages to feel extremely fun and fluid without any major problems.
Guns and enemies have good audio, with the former being punchy enough that the guns sound as loud and lethal as they really are, and enemies can easily be found through listening for where they are. Silence is used well to build tension, but when the music ramps up, it’s nothing special, but it is similarly effective to make the action feel even cooler than it already is.
Trepang2 is a bit of a disappointment when it comes to the horror aspects, stealth, and length, but even then, it has tons of replayability in the side content that is bolstered by fun gunplay. It is a shame that this game doesn’t flesh out its mechanics and story as much as it could have, though what is here is a big blast to play through from start to abrupt finish.