Disclaimer: This review is being written ONLY on the local co-op and single player modes. The online mode was not available at the time of review. The review will be edited once I can play the online mode thoroughly.
At Sundown: Shots in the Dark is an arena shooter game that relies heavily on utilizing the level’s light and layouts to your advantage. Each level has areas of light and the majority is covered in shadow, while your character is in the shadows they are completely hidden (even from yourself), the character becomes visible when you shoot, sprint, or press a button to locate yourself. Stealth is a key mechanic in this game, you have to use the shadows to sneak around your opponents. The game features 6 different map settings with multiple maps within each setting. Each map has differing hazards and layouts, the Subway map for example has trains that can hit and kill players. The game also has 11 different weapons, each has a primary fire and alternate fire so there’s a lot of tactics and strategy that can be employed.
Local Game play:
The general game play loop is pretty simple, set up a local match, players can all join and bots can be added (adding bots was a bit cryptic – you have to press ‘-‘ to open up settings and then select the number of bots to add). There’s a number of different pretty standard game modes for shooters; deathmatch, timed death match, and timed). There are additional gameplay modes that are unlockable as you earn experience. The standard game modes are all there like capture the flag and king of the hill, but there’s also some unique fun games like arms race (all players start with the same weapon and your weapon changes when you get a kill, and whoever gets a kill with each wins). You can also do team matches by having players or bots have the same color character. The four characters (Midnight, Dawn, Dusk, and Eve) don’t seem to have any affect on gameplay and are there for visual differences. You can also choose any weapon you have unlocked to start with.
Bot selection allows you to practice against various different weapon types, as you have the freedom to select the bot difficulty level, their weapon and their team.
Each match is played until the goal is met, either a set number of kills or the timer expires. At the end of each round you are awarded experience points which help unlock additional weapons and levels. The unlocks happen pretty quickly and regularly so the game never felt like much of a grind. The tutorial levels also have medals (gold, silver, and bronze) which earn experience points as well. The tutorials are highly recommended, there’s a couple of challenges for each weapon as well as other game mechanics.
The core mechanic of the game is the stealth, hide-and-seek aspect of the game, move your character into shadows and they become completely hidden from not only other players, but from yourself as well. The controller will vibrate when you come in contact with a wall so you can use this to keep track of your character.
Your character will become visible when you shoot or when you sprint, so you can use the location of your enemies to try and sneak around and ambush your opponents. If you press the B button it will highlight where you are on the map. The main problem with this is that when playing locally the icon will reveal your location to all the other players as well.
Playing against bots also doesn’t seem to provide a fair and balanced experience. The AI bots seem to be able to track you wherever you are even if you’re completely hidden.
I feel like this mechanic will be great for online play (assuming that when you press B it doesn’t show your icon to all the players), the biggest problem with this game is how easy it is to lose track of yourself and if you see another player it’s incredibly difficult to aim correctly because you don’t know your own exact location.
Things that go boom:
The variety of weapons in the game are a definite shining point, all 11 of the weapons feel unique and different. None of the weapons feel horribly un-balanced or unfair compared to other weapons. Some weapons allow you shoot through or over walls, allowing you to keep a defensive position, other weapons allow you to dash and attack or ricochet bullets around corners.
The weapon you choose is what will define your gameplay style, so it’s highly recommended that new players spend some time in the tutorials. The challenges are set up in a way that will highlight the strengths of each different weapon so you can easily find out which one works for your play style.
Other bits and pieces:
Music: The music in the game is nothing memorable, to me the music has a retro-lounge vibe to it. Each map type has it’s own unique music, but there’s nothing that stands out or is memorable.
Graphics: Visually the levels are pretty impressive, there’s lots of lighting effects, laser traps, explosions, and other animated level elements like the subway trains. Personally I found the graphics a little too complex for handheld mode and enjoyed the game much more in docked mode on a 55″ TV.
Stats/Achievements: The game does keep track of your overall statistics and you can view the current unlock status on your profile. There’s also a good number of in-game achievements to obtain as well for performing multi-kills and using multiple weapons during a round for example.
Overall I think that At Sundown will excel in online mode but the local and single player modes leave something to be desired and would get boring quickly.
- Great variety in weapons and levels
- Controls are responsive and tight
- Comprehensive tutorials to help learn each weapon
- AI bots track and follow you when you’re hidden
- Too easy to lose track of your player – locating it in local mode gives away your location to all players
- Music is uninspired and repetitive