Rogue-likes have become rather popular thanks to games like Binding of Issac and Spleunky; However, the most popular ones are usually third-person. While many have tried since, there hasn’t really been a First-Person shooter that has grabbed people just as much but the obvious stand out being Ziggurat. Paranautical Activity is another entry that hopes to take an approach like Binding of Issac and make it into a popular FPS.
Paranautical Activity has a stunning art style. From the moment you shoot your first weapon and watch your enemies explode into a bunch of voxels, it’s hard to see any comparisons to any other game out there on the market. It’s quite easily the game’s strongest aspect but that just sort of highlights the lack of innovation the gameplay needed to stand out just as much as its art style.
First off, your health is just like something you’d see in Binding of Issac; While other FPS rogue-likes have adapted a pool of health that diminished over time depending on what hit you with what, every hit from an enemy takes away one health. What makes this really frustrating is that some enemies shoot multiple projectiles in rapid succession meaning you can take a lot of damage from one bad move which doesn’t exactly feel fair.
Gameplay is essentially how you would play Quake back in the day. You must utilise jump-strafes in order to succeed. While this make the game feel incredibly fast, doing such moves over and over again in the same shaped room just loses its appeal pretty quickly.
Every room is essentially the same shape, it’s what is spawned in it that’s procedural. This means enemies, stairs, platforms, and explosive barrels can spawn anywhere in the room but it’s quite easy to see that there are only a finite number of possibilities on offer. The gameplay is enjoyable but it doesn’t exactly fit with the design.
paranautAt the start of each run, you get to choose between a number of set classes. While this had the great possibility of making it a truly interesting approach to strategies, the weapons on offer from most classes just aren’t interesting. I ended up sticking to one class simply because it felt more powerful than the rest. There are noticeable stat changes but it never felt like it was a different approach rather than “What do you want to be good at?” and then stick with that one only. Having multiple interesting classes could have extended the enjoyment of the game to dozens of hours.
Possibly the weakest part of the game is the presentation which is quite ugly. The screen falls away when you die like something you’d see as a template on a video editing software and the colours and font used makes it look much more like college project. It’s unfortunately a stark contrast to the excellent design when actually playing the game. Thankfully, you are only ever in a menu for a couple of seconds although the death screen is just a giant skull that once again makes the entire look feel disjointed.
Paranautical Activity is a decent attempt at the genre, you earn pick-ups from killing enemies, get new ones from achieving certain tasks and ticks all the boxes to try bring you back and make you keep retrying, but it just doesn’t actually make you do that. |These types of games have a moment where it all just clicks. Paranautical Activity just hasn’t clicked for me, not yet anyway. I’m unsure of when or if it ever will. Regardless, it’s still another decent effort in First-Person rogue-likes but it’s still not THE one.