Screencheat on Xbox One comes with one of the most unique selling points I’ve ever seen in a videogame. Your opponents are all invisible and you’ll need to ‘screen cheat’ in order to succeed.
Now, depending on your age, your inclination or indeed how much you read about rubbish on the internet, you will quite possibly have heard of screen cheating. In a time when local digital multiplayer games are huge business, dropping onto our latest consoles at an alarming rate, the chance to view a portion of the screen which is meant to be private will be something that near on all gamers will have done at some point in their lives. You may have witnessed it back in the 90’s at a LAN party or you may just be sat on your sofa right now, being beaten by a sibling. Chances are though you would have been tempted to throw an eye or two towards their domain in order to try and get the upper hand.
This is exactly what Screencheat urges you to do. In fact, it doesn’t just urge you to do so as without taking in your opponents’ view, you stand next to no chance of winning. It requires you to quickly pinpoint not only your own location, but also that of your opponents in a split second, quicker than they do, in order to fire off the killer shot and take the lead or win. You’ll need a sharp eye, sharper reflexes and a mind that works cleverly enough so that confusion doesn’t become king. Three things that my 40 year old brain seems to struggle immensely with. Fire a shot and a vapour trail is left, signalling to all others your exact location and whereabouts and so sitting around camping is not an option in Screencheat. You’ll have to be on your toes at all times, if not to hunt down your fellow gamers, but in order to stay alive.
You may think that all this will only work in local multiplayer form but Samurai Punk, the developers, have thought about not just those who have real friends, but also those who frequent the online world and gamers who prefer their own company. Whilst the full game can be played with bots of varying degrees of skill, the included Time Trials section covers everything a single player would need, forcing them to go out bot hunting within a set amount of time in order to earn medals and experience points. It’s a good opportunity for you to help progress your skills and ultimately unlock some game changing mutators, with slow motion and a slippy sliding ice skate feel being great for a laugh.
Looking away from the strange and unique gameplay mechanics and you’ll find a host of weapons which are rather great to equip yourself with. From the Hobby Horse to a standard rifle, over to the melee attacking Candelabra or the awesome explosive teddy, you should find yourself having good fun testing out each and every weapon in the game. I would prefer to see a few more additions, but as a game that will appeal mostly to those pick up and play party moments, the weapon variety just about suffices.
For the whole idea of screen cheating to work, the maps on which the game is set must be of a high quality. Whilst you’re not going to find anything in Screencheat to rival the likes of Call of Duty or Halo online, the developers have created a number of well sized, creative levels that flow nicely and allow for a well paced game. Jumping and running opportunities are in great supply, as is the occasional chance to hide away, hoping no-one is able to guess your location. With various areas of each stage coloured to help quickly distinguish the whereabouts of your victims, there is no excuse for not being able to pick out your targets, hunt them down and ensure they are destroyed. For those who find distinguishing colours a major issue, the devs have kindly included a well thought out colourblind mode too. Every little helps eh!?
Which is probably for the best as these type of games can only really succeed when they come equipped with a whole range of options. This is where Screencheat absolutely excels with a ton of basic gameplay options supplemented by the previous mentioned mutators, weapon types and a host of gameplay styles. Whilst you won’t really find anything new to the first person world, those content with deathmatch, capture the flag and juggernaut style modes will be more than happy, with team based variations of all those and more in play. Personally, ‘One Shot’ comes in as a highly recommended starting point, if only so it gives me more of a chance to get away!
All in all then and Screencheat just about scratches an itch that you didn’t think needed scratching. If you’re a fan of first person shooting and fancy something a little different, then it may well be worth a little look, especially if you can convince a few friends to join in on the action as well. In a change to the norm for these small indie titles, everything you can do locally can be transported to the online world but unfortunately, it may be far too highly priced for you to be able to convince even the richest of mates to splash the cash. Online matchmaking is all cool and that, but as is the case with many small Xbox One titles, you’ll struggle to find many playing the game. Thankfully, if you do find a solitary match up, the game will kindly add a couple of bots into the action as well. But then, that’s basically the same as what you’re doing offline. Isn’t it!?
It must be said that for all its good ideas, I’m not a huge fan of Screencheat, but that doesn’t in anyway mean that it’s a bad game – it’s just one that is as far away from my own personal enjoyment as can be. However, the idea is a clever one and has been executed fairly decently, comes with a ton of features and should more than satisfy the masses at a party – especially if you’ve got eight controllers, the drink is flowing, the tunes are banging and the bragging rights need to be finalised.
Screencheat may be classed as a first person shooter – but it’s completely unique in what it does. That price however probably means many won’t ever find that out.