2D procedurally generated rogue-lite games are basically everywhere these days. Logging into Steam bombards you with seventeen of them, each vying for your attention in more desperate ways than the other. ‘You can use a gun in this one!’ one screams. ‘Oh yeah?! Well in this one you’re the villain!’ screams another. Yesterday I got a knock on my door, opened it, and was immediately punched in the face by seven new 2D procedurally generated rogue-lite games. Madshot is another 2D procedurally generated rogue-lite game that hopes to climb to the top of the pile by any means necessary.
The Good In Madshot
Madshot hopes to avoid the failures of games like it, and present itself as a new stand-out in the genre, yet collapses at almost every single hurdle, succeeding in only the smallest of moments and failing where it counts the most. Still, there is a mild degree of quality in it, even if that quality is overridden almost entirely by the bad.
I’ll start off with the positives for Madshot, since there are fewer of them, and starting off this review with a list of negatives would feel overtly cruel. The art style of the game is awesome, evoking a more refined style of 2D art previously seen in games such as Intrusion 2 while committing to making it all feel like a total eldritch abomination. Madshot is heavily inspired by Lovecraftian stories and Lovecraft himself (well, the good parts of Lovecraft. Not…. y’know) and as such really takes that design philosophy to heart. Slimes, skeletons, eyeless bats, Cthulhu himself. They’re all here in full terrifying detail. But…. that’s it. That’s all the positives for the game.
The Bad In Madshot
Repetitive gameplay loops are not in and of themselves a problem. Hell, one of my most played games on Steam is The Binding of Isaac: Repentance (516 hours as of writing this, if you must know). The issue I have with how Madshot does the repetitive gameplay loop is that it’s incredibly dull. The weaponry you’re presented with doesn’t really have any significant kick to it, you might as well be firing party poppers at your enemies for all the feeling you get from doing it. Upgrades don’t make your character seem any more powerful, not when the enemies themselves are about as interesting and diverse as a blank piece of paper. You never feel a significant sense of progression, of power gain, and not even the bosses really feel that different from regular enemies.
In a game like this, it’s incredibly important to make sure that your player feels like they’re getting somewhere. Multiple rogue-lite games give you items that not only significantly change your stats, but change how you play the game. Madshot sidelines this ideology by giving you an extremely basic upgrade tree that just doesn’t feel ANY different from how it did pre-upgrade. Sure you’re doing more damage overall, but every wave of enemies that are thrown at you still feels as tedious as the last one, so it doesn’t really matter. Even your mask power, changeable throughout the game, feels just like a slightly stronger form of standard weaponry, not like the huge boon to your damage that it should feel like. It’s really disappointing to trigger the mask the first time and realize rather rapidly that it lasts for barely anytime at all and doesn’t even matter in the grand scheme of things.
Madshot tries to claim the crown yet fumbles it entirely. The worst part of this is the game has very clear potential to actually be something special in the future, but in the current state that the game has been released it just doesn’t do anything right other than the design of characters and enemies.
You might get more joy out of Madshot than me, and more power to you. It’s got the potential to become something of a stand-out, but what’s here so far is just incredibly boring, incredibly dull, and incredibly hard to get invested in. It’s not a game I’d recommend to anybody at the current moment in time, especially not somebody who actually likes procedurally generated 2D rogue-lites. Lovecraftian themes deserve better than this, even if the man himself did not.