When the Xbox One and PS4 systems were released back in 2013, the latest generation of super consoles were finally with us.
I got my console pre-order in early, happily dropping the few hundred pounds required to ensure that I was at the forefront of the video gaming world. I was looking forward to playing Ryse and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the latest Forza title. The visuals were going to blow me away and the audio being pumped into my ears was going to be hanging around for days on end.
That was nearly four years ago though, and things have changed as the latest console generation has grown up.
I’m now playing the likes of Prey. I’m racing around in a huge open world filled with Hot Wheels tracks in Forza Horizon 3 and I’m wall jumping and boosting over enemies in Titanfall 2. Hell, I’m even hacking the entire globe in Watch Dogs 2.
But alongside those huge AAA blockbusting titles, the indie scene has grown massively. So much so that it is now my first love. It’s the place I go when I want to help the world become a better place. And thankfully it’s full of outstanding titles. Some of them are expensive, some of them are cheap. But today I’m playing a game that is the cheapest of the cheap. As in £3.19 cheap.
Perhaps that’s why I’ve completed the game in just 11 minutes 24 seconds.
But what game is this you may ask? Well, it’s Neighborhorde from Fermenter Games, a new 1-4 player local co-op shoot em up title in which the key to your success is to work together with your team mates, smashing the bad guys before you head off to bed.
That completion I tell of, that one in 11 minutes 24 seconds, was all of my own doing. Yep, a solo player taking down hundreds of enemies and four big bosses alone. With only the help of some frankly rubbish AI. My gaming skills must have been fully on point for those 11 minutes.
Or I could have been playing it on ‘easy’. Ah yeah, that’s right. I was. I was playing and completing Neighborhorde on easy. The mode which the developers freely admit is ‘for babies’. That says a lot to be honest.
Anyways, with that out the way, the big question is did I enjoy it? And has Neighborhorde got enough content to keep me going back for more, perhaps even drawing me into the normal mode (the one for cool kids), letting me unlock further content and giving the opportunity to hear that glorious achievement ping?
Well, for £3.19. It’s most definitely got a monetary draw. But am I really enjoying it? I’m not too sure.
The normal mode that Neighborhorde brings is your standard everyday option for fun times. At least if you’ve got three mates in tow because that is when things become seriously hectic, and quite good fun. Without those friends, then well, it’s a pretty bland solo experience that isn’t helped by some rather dozy AI helpers – helpers who think nothing of running in the opposite direction when a teammate goes down. But then, when Fermenter created this game, it was no doubt picked up as a cooperative game from the outset. And it is in that in which it delivers.
Kicking off in the Neighborville area (the only area you will initially actually have access to), you’ll need to fight off tons of enemies across 21 waves of evil. You’ll come up against robots, giant feet, dragons, wizards and a ton more. There are even evil zombified Abe Lincoln’s ready to rock and rumble, all heading your way with the intention of causing harm. Some of these enemies will come at you fairly swiftly, and others will take a bit longer. Although one thing is for sure – they will all being heading your way and looking to kill you, and your mates, off.
To fight back, you thankfully get the chance to utilise an arsenal of more than 40 unique weapons – weapons that wouldn’t look out of place in your childhood dreams. Dropping in at the start of each stage, you’ll get the choice of adding one of three of these to your repertoire, allowing for a tiny amount of strategic play. If I’m honest though, whilst the likes of the frisbee will fly miles, the squeaky hammer will dish out close range damage and the power of the marshmallow gun will deliver proper penetration, Neighborhorde turns into a button mashing mess, with very little care needed over which of the weapons you manage to find in the constantly arriving present drops. Yep, you may find a favourite and try to stick with that as long as you can – at least until your ammo runs out – but on the whole, as long as you’ve got a weapon in hand, you’re sitting pretty.
You’ll also get to choose from, and add-in to your game, one of 40+ superpowers, some which speed you up, whilst others see an increase to your health. There are more still which drop in attack enhancements to help you on your merry way, stacking the further you make your way through the waves of bad guys.
With your left stick controlling your movement around the small arenas, and the right one deciding your damage direction, the only thing left control wise is to dash away from enemies when things get a bit too hot. This is where things get clever with Neighborhorde and should you dash too far away from your AI or co-op companions, will see you breaking the ever useful ‘Friendzone’. This is a small circle which ensures that anyone in it is constantly being healed by the others. You’ll need it too, as when things get busy – and they do get busy – you’ll need all the health you can get.
Should you or any of your team go down however, then a quick rush over to them lets you revive your squad like nothing has ever happened.
So, manage to bat back the enemies, fight your way past the four bosses and you’ll have completed everything that Neighborhorde brings. Granted, you can continue to play the normal mode and pick up earnable tickets for each wave of enemies you dispatch, before spending them on new characters, wearables or maps, but with only four maps available, and the game basically completed once you’ve reached the end of just one of them, won’t find too much of a reason to head back in, too often.
But that said, as a local co-op title costing just over £3, you will find that it brings a decent amount of bang for your buck, especially if you and your friends are going to nail down a few repeat sessions. You shouldn’t expect great visuals, and please don’t hope that there is a stunning soundtrack to pull you through, because quite frankly there isn’t either of those things. But if you want some quick fun and have got some mates in tow, less than a quid from each of them is never going to break the bank. It may just provide enough fun to get you through an evening or two though.
Way back in 2013, just as I was dropping those many pounds on my latest console pre-order, I would never have dreamt that I would find myself sitting here, four years later, playing a £3 game on the most powerful console the world has ever seen.
But am I. And I’ve enjoyed it.
Take from that what you will.