DIZZYINGLY FRANTIC FUN
Over the course of the last decade, couch co-op games have seen less and less inception in the market. Gone are the golden days of getting together with a group of friends and untangling a set of controllers, as the modern age is all about online gaming. In recent years, however, the indy scene has breathed new life into split screen gaming. From party games like those of Jackbox namesake, to Rocket League, Ark Survival Evolved, and the upcoming Cuphead, local multiplayer games are seeing a reemergence. Screencheat proves that testament all the more, as it takes the direction of classic shooters like Goldeneye and puts one hell of a twist into the formula. Many players will surely recall pointing fingers at friends and making claims of cheating when playing split-screen, but in Screencheat, you have to cheat.
At its core, Screencheat is a shooter in a similar fashion to that of Goldeneye and other N64 era four player shooters. With both local and online multiplayer, Screencheat brings a lot to the table with 9 modes and 11 maps. Not only that, you can also play with up to 8 players both online and locally. The concept of the game is simple, but much harder when actually played. Every players character is invisible, so to determine their location everyone needs to “screencheat” (look at others screens) in order to get kills. It’s an insanely unique and catchy concept, one that not only surprisingly works but is intensely fun. Using a variety of weapons, players peek at screens and reap the rewards if they can line their shots up. Having to multitask and not only traverse yourself across each map but also keep an eye on up to 7 other screens is no easy task. It can be frustrating or confusing at times, but the payoff trumps the negatives by delivering a very fun experience.
As I mentioned before, there are nine different modes to get into. Most of these are great, consisting of your typical death match and king of the hill variety, while others like “Capture the Fun” require you to hang on to a piñata the longest. The only mode I was conflicted on was the Murder Mystery. It is totally original and brilliant, having players tasked with killing specific players with specific weapons, but became more frustrating than fun in a game that already requires a strict amount of focus. During my time with the game, I found local play to be much more enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, online can still be a blast, but this game was made for local play. It makes matches more enjoyable when you are blasting shots trigger happy hoping to successfully steal the win, and laughter is always more contagious in person. Screencheat has one hell of a personality, thus making it all the better playing with friends in person.
The design structure is smart. Each of the 11 levels is plastered with different colors and landmarks to make it easier on the eyes to determine where enemies are. Using a variety of one-shot-kill weapons like the standard blunderbuss or six-shooter, to something a little more out there like the hobby horse (melee stick horse), gives players the chance to shakes matches up. Whether you are aiming for accuracy or luck, there is a weapon suitable for all types of players. There is even a sniper that shows a physical line of site when charging so that you can nail opponents with explicit accuracy, even through walls! In many cases, I preferred the blunderbuss. Getting up close and personal was how I played, and though it has a slow reload time, the blunderbuss has excellent spread in short range shoot-outs.
Though obviously built from the ground up with multiplayer in mind, Screencheat does offer a fun single player alternative in the form of time trials. These are filled with bots running the same pattern over and over again, so practicing can go a long way. I found these to be helpful as stepping stones in preparation of actual competitive play. You can also do solo matches filled with bots of varying difficulties, many of which can be quite the challenge. As mentioned earlier, this game has personality. There is a ranking system, with unlocks following suit. The majority of these are different ragdolls to represent your character when you die, as well as a handful of weapon skins. The different ragdolls are great, but oddly you cannot preview them. You have to equip them and wait to see it in action which is kind of a bummer.
Screencheat is an awesome concept without a doubt. Fun, quick sessions with friends are incredibly entertaining. The game is admittedly not for everyone. While the concept is simple in thought, actually getting used to it is a task that not all will be able to be willing to try. Screencheat has a lot of life to it, further shown by its quirky soundtrack that keeps things engaged. Not only that, but the games announcers and descriptive ways of saying you got killed (“so and so” Obama’d you for instance) make laughs come easy. If you host games sessions locally and often, Screencheat is a no-brainer. This is a dorm room must, and a genuinely unique experience.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of this review
FINAL SCORE: 7.5/10
+Great Local Multiplayer Game
+Quirky and Unique
+Fun, Quick Matches
-Not For Everyone
-Some Modes/Weapons are lackluster