THIS REVIEW WAS WRITTEN BY DAVID RESTREPO
Remember the bygone era of multiplayer gaming? An age when one would invite a close group of friends for a night of gaming, order some pizza, and then wonder when 3 P.M. became 3 A.M.? Well, fear no longer because Screencheat hearkens back to those simpler times. Back before in-depth progression systems, perks, and kill streak rewards became a dominant force. The era in which looking at your friend’s screen and killing him/her would result in a fight that could be settled only by twenty rematches.
As its namesake suggests, Screencheat is all about screen cheating. Whether playing locally or online, all player screens show up at once, allowing for the not so subtle art of screen peaking. Opposing players are all invisible to each other and the only way to locate anyone else is by looking at their screens. It’s a unique concept that works.
Screencheat consists of eleven maps and nine game modes. Every map feels wholly distinct. One might be a tightly cramped apartment with low ceilings connected by several flights of stairs while another is a wide open space with no barriers preventing players from falling off the map. Locating players in each space is made viable thanks to not only easily identifiable landmarks, but also color-coding. All maps are equally split up by four basic colors. There is no bleeding of colors. It’s very clear where one section begins and another ends. These color-coded areas are a god-send as without the ability to quickly identify a player’s general location by color, it would be nearly impossible to play this game.
The game modes on offer include Gold Rush, Elimination, Hillcampers, Capture the Fun, Juggernaut, Murder Mystery, Bombs Away, My First Deathmatch, and One Shot. Hillcampers is a basic king of the hill mode. Capture a territory and remain in position to acquire points. Gold Rush tasks you with collecting coins scattered around the map and killing other players to retrieve their coins. Whoever has the most coins when the round ends wins. Murder Mystery is the most unique of the modes. Players are given a pair of cards. One card highlights the color of your target while the other card shows the weapon that’ll grant an extra point if used to eliminate said target. Instead of spawning and picking a weapon you’re stuck with until death, Murder Mystery places weapons across the map, sometimes leading to quick decision making. Weighing the benefits of getting to the nearest weapon for a guaranteed point versus scoping out the specific weapon noted in your pair of cards at the expense of another player possibly killing their target and resetting the situation, provides an interesting dynamic.
Beyond the maps and modes, the meat of Screencheat’s gameplay is tied to its combat. There are only ten weapons in all, though each handles completely differently. A standard shotgun and rifle round out the arsenal, though there are more creative weapons to play around with such as a candelabra, the singular melee weapon, and a spike ball launcher that acts as a boomerang, catapulting back mere seconds after being shot out. Each weapon requires players to take a different approach to combat; a welcome change from the typical modern day shooter in which so many guns behave similarly enough that a meta forms whereby players find the best weapons and stick to those. Screencheat doesn’t necessarily have a best weapon that works in every situation.
A fairly limited progression system exists, but a lot of it doesn’t amount to much. Gaining levels grants access to new ragdoll skins(whatever ragdoll shows up when you are killed), weapon skins, and mutators. Mutators act as extreme modifiers to a match. One example is a mutator that turns everyone into a baby, decreasing player height dramatically. Multiple mutators can be active at once and in addition to these modifiers, the game host has the option of adjusting jump speed, gravity, and movement speed independently. It’s a highly customizable experience that flies in the face of contemporary shooters that take their multiplayer experiences too seriously. These mutators and customization options can only be messed with in local multiplayer and private online multiplayer. All empty spots can be filled with AI just as in the online multiplayer so it’s not a complete loss if you happen to be alone at the moment, though it’s a shame that such a crazy degree of customization can’t be taken online. Another local only option rests within the game’s eight player mode. It’s absolute chaos in which nothing gets done, serving as the perfect solution for a group of friends just hanging out and looking for an excuse to curse incessantly. Any semblance of balance is lost in this mode, giving way to pure unadulterated madness.
Humor is also a significant part of the Screencheat experience. The bright colors and simple art style fit with the absurd humor that doesn’t hold anything back. Nearly every kill message is a joke of sorts. Some of these messages include “You killed *player name*. Thanks Obama”, “You submitted *player name* to the App store for approval”, “You got Shrekt”, and “Hold X to pay respects”. It’s clear that the developers had a lot of fun with this game and that translates to a more casual and inviting gameplay experience. Sometimes being killed by your friend and seeing a message pop up on-screen that says “fission mailed” is all you need to feel compelled enough to continue playing beyond the core mechanics.
Screencheat is a fantastic multiplayer game to enjoy casually in this day and age whereby every single online shooter feels the need to be competitive. It’s the kind of game that hearkens back to a time when one would invite friends over for a sleepover and spend all night playing games together, ignoring bodily functions and food for just another round. It’s unfortunate that a lot of the crazy stuff is limited to local multiplayer, but even the standard online multiplayer is fun enough to keep your internet friends interested for a night of tomfoolery.
- Varied maps, game modes, and weapons
- Well designed maps that are easy to navigate
- Customizable experience
- A little sparse in terms of overall content