Do you remember Rampage: World Tour? Of course you do. It was the game that let you destroy cities across the world using a giant, genetically modified monster. Well, Terror of Hemasaurus will let you do the same, only this time we’ll be controlling a giant, man-eating lizard instead.
On the face of it, it would be easy to dismiss Terror of Hemasaurus as a simple knock-off. Don’t do that. Because it’s actually a brilliant game.
The year is 2030. Climate change continues to run rampant, and no-one seems to want to do anything about it. That’s where we come in. We’re playing as a giant lizard (or sloth – depending on which of the four monsters you decide to use) who has been freed thanks to the melting ice caps.. The Church of the Holy Lizard has decided to use you for their own ends by sending you across America to wreak havoc and teach humanity a lesson for neglecting the planet.
It’s a surprisingly strong story for a game that boils down to smashing as much stuff as possible, and that is due to the brilliant writing. The characters are hilariously over-the-top, it’s full of dark humour and there’s a self-awareness of how ridiculous the Terror of Hemasaurus’ central premise is. At one point, for example, the game’s creator turns up as a character, only to end up meeting a particularly gruesome fate at the hands of the Church of the Holy Lizard. Most importantly though, it manages to get its core message across – humanity’s unwillingness to tackle climate change – without beating the player over the head with it.
The gameplay is also smashing… if you’ll pardon the pun. Each stage is self-contained and tasks you with either killing a set number of people or reaching a certain destruction percentage. How you do that though, is truly up to you. The game gives you a ton of weapons to carry out your mission and they’re all immensely fun to use. You can take down entire buildings by butt-slamming. You can climb onto blimps and punch them out of the sky. You can throw people at helicopters to bring them down. You can kick cars and vans into buildings for quick destruction points. You can knock buildings into each other to create massively murderous domino effects. And of course, you can eat people too. How else are you going to restore your health?
Midway through your reign of terror, you’ll also be given an Ultimate Ability. It needs to be charged by destroying as much stuff as possible, but it’s well worth it as it will increase your destruction output ten-fold. Each of the available monsters has a unique Ability, and they’re all fun to use.
I found the difficulty curve to be just right too. In the first few stages, you’ll meet very little resistance; your mere presence being a fascination for the news cameras. Soon though, the local police will get involved and you’ll begin to face tougher and tougher obstacles. By the end of the game, America has turned into a warzone, and you’ll have to face SWAT teams, tanks and whatever the military decides to throw at you. It becomes remarkably easy to die and you’ll need to eat a lot of people to stay alive.
This smooth difficulty curve carries over into the endless mode, which does what it says on the tin. It’s a great addition that turns Terror of Hemasaurus into something that you can come back to and play over and over. There’s also a local multiplayer option so you and up to three friends can team up to dish out the destruction.
It would be remiss to finish this review without mentioning the game’s presentation. That 8-bit look that is almost ubiquitous to indie titles these days works perfectly here. Everything is clear and easy to see – no small feat when collapsing buildings and explosions are a dime a dozen. And this becomes even more important in the later stages when you’ll need to dodge enemy projectiles and eat people to successfully stay alive.
The soundtrack is equally brilliant and doesn’t fall into that classic indie trap of being too short and thus incredibly repetitive. In fact, it’s one of the few indie games where the soundtrack remained unmuted during my play through.
Put simply, Terror of Hemasaurus is a brilliant effort from a one-man studio. It takes that familiar Rampage formula, gives it a fresh coat of pain and whacks a strong story on top. The result is something that is a joy to play. And with the inclusion of an endless mode, there’s a game here that you can come back to and play repeatedly. Teaching the world a lesson has never been so fun.
Terror of Hemasaurus is on the Xbox Store