Colossus Down Review

Colossus Down should be my sort of game; the 2D scrolling brawler genre is right up my alley, having spent a lot of my childhood playing just such titles. And outside of a few recent titles rarely have they had such a fun looking art style or presentation. Yet, I came away from my time with fairly luke-warm thanks to unsatisfying combat and a litany of little niggles that kept breaking any fun I was having.

It’s this unsatisfying combat that is the crux of the issue for me. It simply isn’t all that fun to play, our Mecha – built for destruction according to protagonist Nika – feels like it could do with an oiling, such is it’s stubbornness to co-operate with our inputs. When attacking, we’re stuck to the spot – particularly annoying when enemies won’t stay still – and foes can break through our attacks to damage us at the same time. A block is all but useless as it barely mitigates the damage taken and means we are unable to retaliate, letting us get swamped with foes ready to duff us up the second we break guard.

Special attacks can be gained between levels by collecting scrap dropped by foes, but using these drain our life bar by too much to make using them anything but a last resort. We’re able to regenerate our health with a fuel meter (refilled by dropped fuel from enemies and the environment) but this is all too easy to drain with a load of enemies left on screen, leaving us as easy pickings. We have a dash that lets us escape immediate danger and deals minor damage, but due to the sheer number of enemies on screen we usually end up dashing out of danger, only to meet a whole new set of enemies on the other side.

Everyone takes an age to beat too. Even the weakest enemies take too many hits to kill, and again are able to attack us at the same time. The only useful attack is the electric-stunning one, so coralling enemies into one spot is the aim of the game, and hitting them all at once means that we’re free to wait an age for them to die without taking damage ourselves. The saw blade melee attack, and the hard to aim rocket attack, feel grossly underpowered as well.

Early on we get a choice to make; have access to all four power-ups, but activate perma-death, or lose one power-up but have infinite respawns. Considering the amount of times I died due to sheer numbers of enemies I can’t recommend taking the former option. Yet, at the same time, the latter makes trying to survive a fight almost pointless. I’m thankful there is no progress lost (we respawn exactly where we died) but this also robs the combat of any meaning; One boss fight just saw me up in their face taking damage as I attacked, only to respawn when they eventually killed me to carry on exactly where I left off.

So, we either have a supremely tough (and no doubt frustrating) mode, or one where nothing really matters. This wouldn’t be so much of a misnomer, but there’s not really anything else to keep our interest and pull us through. The story is mildly entertaining in its teenage-esque tale of rebellion against all sorts of things, with pop-culture references used at every turn. I can’t deny getting a little chuckle at some of these, but subtle Colossus Down is not. A later area lays this on thickest, with shots at all the big names in film, music and videogames you might expect, with nothing of any real substance to say about them outside of “ugh, this popular thing is so rubbish”.

I did like how Mango Protocol mixed things up from time to time though. While mainly a 2D brawler, there are a few other genres mixed in at points, though they also suffer from the same frustrating elements the main game does. Ultimately, despite some neat ideas across the board, it all feels just too awkward or stilted to play at every turn. And the way the screen shakes constantly as our Mecha walks is headache inducing…

Conclusion

Despite having some neat ideas across the board, the final execution of Colossus Down just feels a little too awkward and uninspiring. Clunky, repetitive combat and a teenage angst-filled story do little to inspire continued play. There are far better examples of the genre out there, on which your time is better spent.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Nice art style
  • Some neat ideas
  • Has its moments of fun
Bad
  • Combat is too stilted and clunky
  • Story is uninteresting
4.5
Poor
Gameplay - 4
Graphics - 6
Audio - 4
Longevity - 4
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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