Everyday Shooter is a twin-stick shooter, originally developed by Jonathan Mak a winner of a number of indie software industry awards. Published by Sony Computer Entertainment, it’s available for little more than a pint and a packet of crisps, via the PlayStation Network.
As maybe expected, the player controls the movement with the left stick, and the fire with the right stick – a simple concept which in this case turns out to be visually and aurally, a somewhat different and fulfilling experience.
At the core of the game is the need to destroy as many enemies as possible, during the course of a few minutes, over each of the game’s musically themed environments. Certainly there are nods towards Rez (as Mak mentions in his sleeve notes), in that it has a sound track that reacts to player kills; it’s like a garage-band guitarist is sat in your bedroom, jamming along to what you’re playing and seeing on screen (and hence the full name Riff: Everyday Shooter). Even the menu selections make an accompaniment to the score.
The title comprises of eight different levels in total, but the unique thing here is that they all feel very different to play. This is evident not just in terms of mechanics, but also in the graphical and musical components. Perhaps the most important concept in Everyday Shooter is that of chaining; that is, maximising the kills on screen in a domino effect from a single slaughter – each system needs to be learnt in order to maximise the high-score, and this is a fantastic challenge in itself.
Every time an enemy is destroyed it drops a small square (or a flashing square for extra points), the little craft controlled by the player has to fly over these to pick them up, and thus increase the score. As these appear on screen for a limited amount of time, the player has to find a balance of continuing to shoot and move more slowly, or concentrate on point collecting, as not firing speeds the craft up. Decisions, decisions.
Starting with a limited number of lives, a level plays over three or four minutes. Pacing varies a lot, never seeming quite as intense as something such as Geometry Wars, but there’s always a lot going on screen, and it always seems to hot up as the end of level is approaching. The little player controlled square can feel somewhat sluggish, even in the speedier non-firing mode at this end phase, but this really is just a minor niggle rather than a fundamental game flaw.
The points gathered in each session are accumulated across the game, and can be spent on unlockables. There are a lot of things to open up, from additional starting lives, individual game levels and graphical effects. There’s usually quite a high price to pay, so it’s going to take a fair chunk of time to get it all.
Everyday Shooter is a game that gets better the more you learn about how to play it. There is a great challenge in discovering, then maximising, the different chaining systems across each of the levels. Although it has a few quirks, such as the somewhat sluggish movement, it’s a visual and aural delight that’s both a challenge and a joy to play. It’s certainly a different take on the familiar twin-stick shooter theme, and at this price it’s a steal.