We’ve all wanted to be a superhero at one point in our lives. I know I certainly did growing up. Hell, I still practically eat Marvel comics for breakfast. Anyway, moving on. Megaton Rainfall originally released last year on the PlayStation 4 as a timed exclusive, before finally arriving this week on Xbox One. The game is a first-person superhero game that takes place during the midst of an alien invasion, one which only you, the super hero protagonist, can deal with. It’s a cheesy premise, granted, but does the rest of the game step on up where it matters?
The game sports an open-world and throws you into the role of a seemingly invincible guardian that’s been sent to planet Earth to protect it from the alien invaders. The aliens are relentless in their destruction of the planet and in-turn, the human race. On paper, this sounds like a plot that Jerry Siegel came up with, but in practice, it’s far removed from anything anywhere near as entertaining as Siegel’s iconic Superman. In fact, if anything, it’s a total let down after even just the first hour of play. Don’t get me wrong, the game has some strong points, but it’s hardly original.
Taking on the role of a superhero, you can expect to enjoy all of the tropey supernatural abilities that come with; travelling at high speed, using special abilities and so on and so forth. Despite the fact that much of the action takes place on Earth, you are indeed afforded the ability to travel to the stars from time to time to break up the action-packed pace. Being invincible has its perks of course, meaning that you’re entirely free from harm. To offset this generous design point, your losses are weighed by the poor souls caught in the crossfire. Yes, that’s correct, us humans…
The game starts you out in what can only be described as the beginning of a poor Dr. Who episode. Our hero is beckoned to a vortex before a voice relays to you that it is your creator, has made you who you are, and wants you to protect the Earth from its doom. It just so happens that your creator once hid some artifacts on Earth, artifacts that are responsible for your creation and your unparalleled strength. It would be important, then, to do whatever the hell it takes to keep these artifacts from the aliens. That’s the meat of the matter, to begin with.
Sadly, the plot points that follow do very little to elevate the story to a place that’s interesting or exciting. It’s just there, and it’s boring for the most part. Mercifully the game did show a lot of promise to begin with as far as the gameplay is concerned, but again, the experience overall does very little to maintain any grip. It’s a shame really, because during my first hour of play, I couldn’t pull myself away from blasting energy balls from my hands at just about any alien or craft that stood in my way. I felt very empowered indeed, and then, repetition along with sloppy controls, pulled me back to reality.
The gameplay is very tug-of-war. On one hand you want to be an asshole and just destroy everything in sight, but on the other, you’re tethered to a conscience. Due to your invincibility, you cant take any damage whatsoever. Instead, you’ll need to be mindful of a causality-meter. This meter will deplete depending on damage done to the humans by the aliens, or as well, collateral damage from your attacks. Once the meter completely depletes, it’s game over and back to your latest checkpoint. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars. With me? Good.
In all honesty, the game’s main missions will not at all take too long to complete because there’s just not that many of them. There is, however, a lot of side missions for you to take on. On top of this, as alluded to above, you can also zoom into space and explore its vastness, as well as sit back and watch planet Earth from afar, as well as all of the different countries on-map. There’s a very clear scope here, and I do want to commend the developer for their ambitions, but there’s no denying whatsoever that this should have been subject to a lot more polish.
The core gameplay loop just isn’t captivating enough to live up to its initial innovations. Sure, you can learn new moves and powers such as freezing time and so forth, but these additions mean very little when engagement with the game’s enemies is purely underwhelming. There’s no real interaction with your foes, they just turn up, which is made apparent by the constant on-screen waypoint arrows throughout. When this happens, you zoom to them, kill them and that’s that. It doesn’t help matters that the controls are far too loose and sloppy from start to finish.
I lost count of how many times I shot over or aside the aliens due to rapid and inconsistent player movement, meaning that I had to come to a complete standstill to get the job done. For a game that’s based on fast speed movement and empowering play, it sure knows how to slap you in the face using this poor design choice. What I will say is that I loved the enemy variation within. There’s a lot of diversity within and all of the aliens behave in their own destructive ways. Whether they’re crushing vehicles or gleefully headbutting down entire buildings, it’s clear that they mean business.
There’s also some motherships present. These ships are vast and well designed, capable of causing mass damage to whatever sits below. I should point out that this whole experience has been developed by just one man and to say that he hasn’t put his blood into this game would be an insult. Though, perhaps it’s fair to say that he bit off more than he could chew. This game is clearly the product of a lot of work, but there was still much work to be done for it to realistically stand out for what it is. The end result makes for something that could have worked, but fails to truly work.
The visuals are not the greatest. Hell, they’re oftentimes muddy in places and lack any form of personality. Zooming into space is a visual treat, but shooting back down the planet only regularly shows how ugly the world can be. On the flip-side I did enjoy the neat effects, such as explosions and quick-travel, as well as the game’s environmental diversity. One moment I was fighting above the giant palm tree island in Dubai, and next, I was above the houses of parliament in London. It’s a shame, then, that they lack a great deal of visual refinement across the board.
Had the plot been more interesting, the visuals sharpened and better detailed, the game length extended and the controls been more responsive (humans apparently don’t like you accidentally leveling a building) we could have been looking at an entirely different beast. Unfortunately, as it stands, Megaton Rainfall is one of those games that you just wish had been a whole lot better. The same can be said about the game’s rather generic audio. There’s some additional modes to take on when you’re done with the story, including Score Attack and Free Mode, but nothing really to write home about.
Megaton Rainfall is one of those games that clearly houses a great deal of potential, but sadly fails to meet it on almost all fronts. Credit needs to be given to the one-man developer for the sheer amount of ambition here, that much has to be said. However, the end result, despite its environmental diversity and its clever mechanics, makes for game that’s short, sloppy, visually bland and ultimately uninteresting.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.