Welcome to my review for Livelock
Developed: by Tuque Games
Published by: Perfect World Entertainment
Release Date: 30th August 2016
Livelock is here after a short delay from the intended release date, and brings with it a top down, twin stick shooting element that has been seen a lot more frequently as of late, with a healthy choice within the Indie game scene. But what doe Livelock do better than others? For starters we have a respectable Story length, I clocked just over 11 hours playing through the Story, and almost lasted an hour in Open Protocol mode. The latter is essentially a horde mode, but without clearing waves, you get an endless spawn of enemies increasing in difficulty.
First off, we will delve into the Story. It starts off, with humanity facing an untimely end, due in no small part to a G.R.B heading in the direction of Earth. For those who don't know what this acronym is, it's a Gamma Ray Burst. A deadly extinction event that will wipe humanity off the face of the planet. If one were to pass through our Solar System, and not even hit our home, it would still destroy our planet by stripping off our atmosphere, and leaving us at the mercy of solar radiation. Not a peasant thought, and certainly nowhere to run.
Step forward 3 volunteers who wish sacrifice their human form for that of a robot. A soldier, a scientist and an athlete. Hex, Vanguard and Catalyst as they will be known from here on in. Once the introduction is over, and after choosing your chassis, you are woken up by a mysterious voice. Your journey begins here, and your mission will be to acquire keys, but not of the normal variety we all know and love. I don't want to give too much away regarding the story, as the game is centered around combat, and your interactions with the voice are told along the way once you reach new sections of the game.
So now we have the combat. Does it work? Oh yes, and it is very good to boot. Before you set off on your first mission, you will be in your lobby, and even though you have no options to swap your loadout, you can come back here after each mission to upgrade weapons, your Firmware, and level select. Each chassis has a primary, secondary and a special weapon. Your primary weapon has unlimited ammo, so you will never run out. Your other weapons can deal more damage, but take longer to reload and have a limited supply. You will unlock 1 more weapon for each category, and have the option to upgrade each weapon 5 times. Meaning you can deal some serious damage and ramp up the difficulty at the same time, as Livelock isn't that hard at all on the first 2 difficulty settings. Controls are easy to use, and you can have up to 3 abilities in battle, and you have cooldown times obviously, but they can make all the difference. Hex is my personal favourite, and his Orbital Strike attack is pretty impressive.
Your Firmware allows you some cosmetic modifications for your chassis, Helmet, Cape and Chassis itself. Different Helmet styles, Chassis changes your colour and Capes will have separate colours and designs. This adds nothing but the look of your chassis choice, and I think Tuque missed out here. Different ability passives could have been added to make each of the games protagonists more unique. But as you level up, and we are talking each and every of the 30 character levels, you get a new unlock. New passives and ammo etc will be yours the more you play. Levelling up isn't a chore either. I had reached level 27 by the time the credits had started rolling.
The one gripe I have is the reprinting. A cool little feature should you die. You can continue where you left off, and this is infinite. A limit per mission would have been a better option, but it doesn't mean that this is a major downer on the game. Just a limit would have been a better choice in my personal opinion. As there is no penalty for death you can just keep going until you complete the game.
There are plenty of mission or you to undertake on your quest to Eden, and along the way you will meet Alpha. Do you trust his motives? Or is the voice that follows you along this journey the one you want to listen too? I wont say anything here, as the journey is yours to take, and spoiling it for you would ruin everything for you. The game offers cut scenes and even voice acting too. Not often you get voice acting in an Indie game, and I particularly enjoyed Hex's commentary. Typically cheesy comments from the former human soldier. This will bring a smile to your face if you find these sort of comments amusing.
You get a score awarded at the end of each mission, based on several parameters, including difficulty, time taken and amount of reprints. Being the top ranking payer is something to aim for and as of last night I had top rank on just one level, and I really want to keep aiming higher on other levels and higher difficulties. A good addition to the game to extend the longevity.
You have the chance to buddy up with 2 more people to help end the never ending battle between intelligent machines, now populating a desolate wasteland. Certain parts of the scenery is destructible, and hidden areas await you, with Data cards, and Carbon. The latter being a collectable you can use to upgrade your weapons. It is plentiful, should you explore enough. Fallen robots can be found in abundance on each of the levels, bar the final level.
Graphics: Livelock has an array of levels with different environments to traverse, with a high amount of detail, and despite some clipping with Alpha, it's appearance is up there as one of the best looking Indie games available for Xbox One. In the lobby screen your chassis are impressive to look at, and the various Firmware upgrades are good cosmetic additions. In short, Livelock is a pretty game, and levels have been given a lot of care and attention.
Music/FX: Enjoyed the voice acting from the cast of Hex, Catalyst and Vanguard. The one liners will make you groan and smile. Sounds like it could come straight from Far Cry Blood Dragon. The music and sounds are implemented well and do the game justice.
Longevity: I clocked approximately 11 hours for a playthrough with Hex and hitting level 30. You will need to do that with Vanguard and Catalyst should you be inclined to hit the 1000g. Plenty of collectables to discover, and co-op with 2 friends, and finally Open Protocol mode will give you plenty of hours for your money, which I say will be well spent. Aiming to be in the Top 3 ranks for each level so the world can see just how good you are is another incentive to keep playing. Oh, don't forget you have 3 difficulty settings to keep you busy. Or you could just play on Hard from the get go.
Gameplay: Easy controls to learn, an master if I am completely honest. Livelock doesn't make it a tough game to get stuck into. Very accessible, and with a co-op buddy, means more firepower and destruction. Open Protocol mode with it's endless supply of machines to dismantle is a fun challenge to see how long you can last.
Achievements: I racked up 500g from my Hex run, and the majority are easy enough to get done. Collectables are not tracked, so it is going to be difficult to remember which ones you have collected on subsequent playthroughs. Level up each character to 30, and play some co-op and Open Protocol and that is pretty much your lot. There could have been some more challenging achievements for sure, well, maybe x100 destruction achievement will be a tough one to get, but more of this variety would be welcomed.
In closing, I certainly hope that Tuque Games will stick around and release more content in the future, as they definitely have a vast wealth of talent at their disposal. More Livelock in the form of dlc would be pretty sweet. Maybe a sequel? Who knows what will happen. But one thing is for certain, I want more. More Livelock, more Tuque Games releases, and more cheesy one liners from Hex. I for one will be playing as much as I can whenever I get some free time. Livelock is a splendid game, and if it sounds like your sort of game too, then chances are you will enjoy it too.
I would like to thank the Publisher for supplying a review copy of the game.
I award Livelock 4.5/5 stars.