Steam has a surplus of twin-stick shooter rogue-likes, so new challengers had better bring some creativity. Danger Scavenger isn’t bad, but its sole distinguishing feature is the accumulation of massive amounts of weaponry.
In 2014, Romania-based Phenomenon Games released a title named Meltdown. An isometric twin-stick shooter with roguelike qualities, it invited intermittent play, as you gradually leveled up your character and their weapons. But eventually, the trek grew tedious. So, I moved onto other games, hopeful that a sequel would expand on the game’s solid foundations. But one never arrived.
The recent release of Danger Scavenger might be the closest we’ll get to a follow-up since Phenomenon has gone silent for the past five years. Like Meltdown, players traverse a succession of procedurally generated environments. Expectedly, each is filled with enemies, who doggedly attack as soon as they become aware of you. As you persevere, adversaries grow in strength and number requiring you to augment your arsenal and abilities. But whereas Meltdown incorporated a cover mechanic into the action, Scavenger places destructible items around the playfield. The result is an experience that’s slightly inferior, as your character frequently gets snagged on these obstacles.
Light on Plot, Heavy on Projectiles
Before taking control of one of four playable characters, Dark Scavenger offers a modicum of motivation. Like so many science fiction tales, an acronym-ed AI called A.I.O.N.E has gone rogue, turning on their corporate overlords. Enter a quartet of cyberpunk heroes, who each have their own special abilities and cater to different play styles. Captain J is the prototypical balanced combatant, able to call up a hailstorm of bullets with an area-of-effect attack. Or you can opt for HUN-734, who can pull off a nimble triple dash, but is otherwise a rather fragile scavenger.
Each of the fifteen stages that lead up to challenging boss battles begins with your character disembarking from an elevator. Stages are on the small side, each tasking players with eliminating every enemy before advancing to the next floor. In some levels, adversaries are already positioned around the playfield, while hacking stages spawn foes around you. Occasionally, you’ll even fight an elite opponent. Despite these ambitions for variety, monotony will emerge, since there’s little depth to the firefights.
Bringing Out the Big Guns
While combat lacks sophistication and doesn’t require much in the way of strategy, there is variety to be found in Danger Scavenger’s weaponry. Before beginning your trek, you’ll be able to select from two different ranged weapons. Additionally, you’ll have access to a melee-based arms. But since ammo is abundant and getting adjacent to adversaries is risky, you’ll probably use the latter infrequently.
Likely, you’ll pick up guns, rifles, and rocket launchers housed in treasure chests that dot the battlefield. These vary in power, precision, velocity, and firing rate. Whether you prefer Uzis that pump out a wide, rapid-fire squall of projectiles, sniper rounds that are exceedingly accurate but can only be fired every few seconds, or formidable rockets that creep toward opponents, you’ll be able to carry a pair of weapons that likely suit your style of play. Scavenger isn’t overly concerned with balance, so trying and discarding low-grade loot is part of the formula.
You Want Some Missile with Your Missiles?
Fundamentally, each type of weapon has been seen in other games. Instead, Danger Scavenger find individuality in the random perks you might find or purchase at one of the corner stores found in some stages. These do things like randomly fire twice as many bullets, launch a powerful homing missile, or have each shot split into three different munitions. Pleasingly, these stack up, so runs often grow easier, as a few taps of the fire button releases of barrage of ballistics that wipes out every enemy in an area.
Like many Early Access titles, Scavenger has several traits that could use improvement. While it’s enjoyable to blast enemies off the roof for a bonus, it can also be a bit too easy to slip off the side of the stage yourself. Often, you’ll need to move quickly to avoid turrets that launch a multitude of missiles or grenades or drones that emit searing lasers. Hazards can add tension but they should be persistent. Coloring is another issue, with foes that share the same hues of on-screen obstacles. Currently, bosses are tuned to be a little too challenging. All too often, they put a demoralizing halt to your 20-minute run.
On the upside, the most recent updates added a twin-stock mode to the existing roguelike style of game. This continues persistency to your runs, lessening the sense of aggravation. While the game has some stealth qualities, beyond backstabbing the occasional lone enemy, you’ll likely favor firepower over a furtive approach. Now, if developers Piotr Wolk and Star Drifters could add a v-sync option, that would be another welcome improvement.
Save for a bit of unsightly screen-tearing, Danger Scavenger is a respectable looking game. Although it’s never explained how every battle takes place on a rooftop, the setting allows for some awesome views. Look past the destructible guardrails, and you’ll spy a cyberpunk metropolis filled with illuminated high-rises, neon landing pads, and holograms, reminiscent of Blade Runner. Another notable visual effect is screen glitching, which happens when your health in running low. As for music, expect some Eurobeat to give your speakers or headphone a rigorous workout.
In its current state, Danger Scavenger is competent, but non-essential effort. But if the developers can double-down on the sensation of being a dervish of destruction, it might morph isn’t something more remarkable. Certainly, many of the fundamentals are in place and the recent update demonstrates the developers listening to player feedback, providing Scavenger with a fair shot of emerging victorious.
Danger Scavenger was played on PC with code provided by the publisher