A competitive game and a party game; both of these easily define The Showdown Effect. Currently in beta, The Showdown Effect—developed by Arrowhead Game Studios, the same company that made Magicka—is an explosive 2.5D multiplayer shooter inspired by 80’s and 90’s action cinema. Shoot, slice, and blow-up your friends while simultaneously spouting one-liners to become the ultimate action movie star.
While showing no immediate similarity to Magicka, it does have much of the same quirkiness. The Showdown Effect beta currently boasts an impressive amount of content and unlockables, including stages, characters, game modes, weapons, weapon skins, and character cosmetics. Unlockables are unlocked via AC, the game’s currency, acquired after every match depending on how well the player did. It’s apparent that there was work put into the stages, which feature Easter Eggs and movie references or little details like elevator music that start when players are near an elevator. Players’ vision is limited based on their surroundings and where they’re standing.
There are six playable action movie inspired characters so far—two of which are unlocked right from the beginning. Each character provides an assortment of action movie protagonist references and come equipped with their own set of unique power-ups. Known as Wearables, simple items such as a wooden bucket, baseball cap, or a more extravagant item such as Neo’s (from The Matrix) coat can be purchased.
Combat revolves around fluid platforming, attempting to annihilate up to eight other enemy players. Light, medium, heavy, and block pickup items, each with their own uses, are scattered throughout different areas of the map. Weapons range from a katana to a shotgun, which can be equipped with unlockable weapon skins that not only change the appearance of weapons but the name and sound effects as well. Firearms may take getting used to, due to having to directly aim the target cursor on an enemy in order to hit them; the only exceptions being the rocket launcher and throwing knives, which can be thrown willy nilly and still hit targets. The game includes effective ways to avoid attacks, such as rolling and sliding, which are useful against the precise demands of the game’s aiming system. Blocking helps mitigate damage, but taking too many hits will daze players for a few seconds and discourages turtling tactics.
Game modes include: Expendables, One Man Army, Team Elimination, and Showdown. Expendables pits two teams against each other; one consists of action heroes while the other consists of generic goons associated with the theme of the current stage. One Man Army allows one player to go up against all other opponents until defeat, after which someone else is randomly selected to be the “one man army.” Team Elimination is basically team deathmatch. Showdown is a free-for-all match where opponents fight one another for five minutes straight to obtain the highest possible amount of points. Once the timer expires, however, the game enters a sudden death phase; death puts the player into a spectator status. Not only does awesome rock music begin to play, but stages completely transform; objects explode, lights go out, and stage backgrounds depict a variety of events. One stage even shows silhouettes that resemble Ultraman and a giant monster battling it out.
While the bulk of The Showdown Effect looks incredibly promising, it’s not without its flaws. Most of the weapons seem fairly balanced, but the throwing knives stood out. Purchasing throwing knives made it substantially easier to hit targets. They aggravated players on many occasions. However, the most prevalent issue with The Showdown Effect has to be the odious lag. Without dedicated servers, the game will usually skip frames for certain characters, making them extremely difficult to hit. There were several instances where katanas would appear to kill a player further from the immediate area in which they were striking, all due to client-side hit detecting.
While not perfect, The Showdown Effect is still in beta. There are sure to be more characters, stages, game modes, and items upon retail release. Hopefully, Arrowhead Game Studios pays close attention to their consumer base and addresses any major complaints to help ultimately deliver an outstanding game. For $10, you may preorder The Showdown Effect now to gain access to the beta with the full retail release due on PC sometime this March.