Reagan Gorbachev was originally developed for the OUYA system by Team2Bit and has now made its way onto PC and Xbox One.
The plot of Reagan Gorbachev is fairly simplistic and possibly the most far-fetched and cheese filled that you’re ever likely to see – one that puts you into the alternate year of 1986 where the US President Ronald Reagan and the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev have both been kidnapped by some militant extremists. Now they must team up and work side by side in order to save themselves, and the world, from a nuclear armageddon.
Reagan Gorbachev is a top-down stealth shooting puzzler that can either be played alone or with a friend in local co-op. Your objective is to reach a small floor grate which signals the exit of the room you are in – something both characters must reach alive. Whenever either of them gets hit by the enemies or various hazards along the way the level will be restarted from scratch, which can at times be a bit frustrating. But the point of the game is to learn from your mistakes, and the more you die, the better you learn how to play the game and work out which characters are needed to be used in each situation.
Controlling either Reagan or Gorbachev is pretty much the same, but there are a few slight differences between them. Reagan is equipped with a katana and he’s the only one who can lock-pick the red doors, whilst Gorbachev holds a blow dart gun and can hack into computers to unlock green doors. Besides each character’s unique weapon, you can count on a wide variety of weapons that can be picked up and used by either of them. Handguns, shotguns, machine guns, bazookas and much more can help you eliminate the extremists and make your way through each room.
Each time you finish a room you will see a small cutscene where Reagan and Gorbachev tend to argue with each other in a humourous way, putting across their ideas. You will also be able to answer a trivia question about both characters in the game, although this doesn’t give you anything in particular except a few achievements which have been linked to correctly answering a certain number of questions.
The controls used to play are very simple, although it may take a bit of time to get used to them, especially if you are playing alone. The analog sticks are used to move and aim, like in any other shooter so no news there, whilst the right trigger is used to attack. When you have a gun in your hands you can use the Y button to lock onto nearby foes and use the left trigger to cycle through them; something which can be useful to perform quick kills. If you are playing alone you can also use the right bumper to switch between Reagan and Gorbachev and you can call the one that is not being controlled by tapping the left bumper.
Visually, Reagan Gorbachev is presented in a great 16-bit art style, which grants it a good retro feeling, comparing it to something like Hotline Miami. Looking into the era in which the game takes place it also links to the retro gaming consoles like the NES and Sega Saturn. Something that will be pleasing to the retro gamers out there. As for the sound, although it compliments the 16-bit retro look of the game it can become a bit repetitive after a while.
Reagan Gorbachev is clearly a game meant to be played in co-op, but the solo experience can give you a more challenging approach to the game. It won’t appeal to everyone, especially if you don’t like to die multiple times and spend countless minutes trying to pass the same level over and over again. Besides the online leaderboards where you can battle up the ranks by completing the levels as fast as you can, the game doesn’t offer any other replayability interest. A game with only local co-op tends to be put off numerous gamers these days and this limit could well be a down point for many, but since I come from a period where multiplayer was only possible offline it doesn’t really upset me. Since the vast majority of Xbox titles nowadays can be played with Xbox Live friends instead of local compatriots, having the option to play both locally and online would be a huge plus.
The game isn’t necessarily bad but I feel that it could only have a niche appeal since not everyone has the possibility to play with friends at home and aren’t exactly tuned in to playing a game that can be played in co-op all by themselves, especially one that can be so challenging to play alone as Reagan Gorbachev is.