Over the past decade, the name Housemarque has become synonymous with arcade-style games. From the early PSN title Super Stardust HD to the PS4 launch savior Resogun, the Finnish studio has produced many critically acclaimed and commercially successful games. In recent years, though, good reviews haven't been followed by strong sales. Nex Machina, a colorful top-down arcade shooter released earlier this year, is pure Housemarque. Created in partnership with arcade legend Eugene Jarvis, it's fast-paced, devilishly challenging and with tight controls.
Last November, Finnish game developer Housemarque declared that the arcade genre "is dead." The studio's last title, Nex Machina, was warmly received by the press and currently boasts an 88 rating on Metacritic. "Lackluster sales," however, meant the company needed to change direction if it wanted to keep making games. It vowed to make "something completely different" and today, we have our first tease of the team's new project. The game is called Stormdivers and it promises a "multiplayer-centric experience" blended with "hard flying and heavy hitting gameplay."
So the twin-stick shooter multiplies the risk to players by having enemies come in from all angles, but as good ludology dictates, the best titles in genre ensure the player is also empowered. Through the game there are multiple pick-ups which add to the power of your blaster; there are also secondary weapons including missiles and even a sword, which have limitless usability, letting you take out vast swarms of robot invaders. It sounds old-fashioned, it looks old-fashioned, but this is smart, gripping game design. After each level, the landscape swirls to reveal a new surface, like some monstrous Rubik's cube, and you're back blasting away. Taking out scenic objects reveals hidden items and routes – there are score multipliers everywhere; the world is utterly alive, fizzing with energy.
Finnish developer Housemarque's ode to Robotron: 2084, Nex Machina is out for PC and PlayStation 4 this summer. And while we debuted it in December, details for the frantic arcade shooter have been relatively scarce since. Perhaps the most exciting new wrinkle we've learned about is its replay mode. "All of the leaderboard entries are effectively recorded, which means it's possible to enter the leaderboards, select an entry and watch the replay," a post on the PlayStation Blog reads. So, versus wondering how your buddy (or the top-ranking player) got the high score they did, you can see it for yourself.
Two days ago, Resogun developer Housemarque released its first proper trailer for Stormdivers. At the time of writing, the official upload on YouTube has 290 thumbs-up and 321 thumbs-down ratings. "I'm going to miss absolutely amazing arcade titles from you guys," one user wrote. "Might as well wait for the inevitable closure announcement," another user remarked underneath. The video in question shows a dystopian brawl between various super-soldiers with lethal weapons and fantastical abilities.