Although it has been a long minute — 12 years — since the last F.E.A.R game, many fans still remember the supernatural shooter and its unsettling child antagonist, Alma. The three-game F.E.A.R franchise was known for excellent, first-person shooting and its blend of otherworldly powers. Though there’s no literal connection, it’s hard not to see Trepang2 as something of a spiritual successor to F.E.A.R. But, is it worthy of the comparison?
While it looks like a slick triple-A shooter, Trepang 2 is essentially an indie game made by a very small and obviously talented team. You are Prisoner 106, and the game’s tutorial level has you escaping from a hardened black-site security complex to final rooftop extraction. Thanks to a narratively convenient case of amnesia, who you are is a cypher. Ditto where you are, and why everyone is trying to kill you. If you guessed there’s an evil corporation involved, give yourself a star.
As you make your way through the tutorial complex, weapons and armor become available. You also discover that you can briefly cloak yourself and slow down time. In particular, the bullet time dilation effect is a strong echo of F.E.A.R.’s mechanics. It’s still fun to toss foes in the air and shoot them in a slow-motion ballet of blood.
Post tutorial, the game moves through a series of pretty basic interiors like multistory corporate headquarters and fortress-like installations, spread around the globe. The level design focuses less on detail than on spaces that offer maximum destructibility and lots of hidey holes for enemies. The levels aren’t bad. They’re pretty linear but they’re fun to move and shoot through, with lots of flexibility to approach the bad guys. They might be a bit lacking in character. But, like the game’s bare-bones narrative, complex levels aren’t the point.
Keep the Action in Sight
We’ve all played games made by small teams with ambitions that outpaced their resources. Happily, the developers have chosen to narrow their focus, making sure that Trepang2’s combat is the best it can be. If your favorite genre is fast-paced and brutally gory first-person military-style combat, this is the game for you.
Trepang2 is set in a “distant future,” but most of the weapons in the game — aside from the more unconventional ones — are variations on present-day arms. There are pistols, shotguns, machine guns, and assault weapons galore, plus grenades, mines, and other death-dealing resources. They all feel great and pretty punchy. Weapons can be upgraded at workbenches spread out in each area, adding components like laser sights, different stocks, or more effective barrels.
You customize your character’s appearance at headquarters, where you also pick your next mission and practice in a combat simulator. Each mission is a series of multiple objectives, and difficulty can be dialed from easy to nearly impossible. The focus is on combat, but there are enough trappings and mechanics around it to make Trepang2 feel like a fleshed-out experience. The game never gets fussy about its realism, though. Things like health stations, ammo, and armor pickups are straight from the dawn of shooters. Speaking of OG shooters, Trepang 2 includes a very large number of unlockable cheats.
The vast majority of time in Trepang2 is running, gunning, and sneaking around the game’s environments, killing large populations of nameless soldiers. They’re also faceless, limbless, and often entirely headless thanks to the game’s explicitly violent and gore-drenched approach. While it might be hard to separate one mercenary from another, it’s easy to separate their extremities from their torsos. Enemy AI is a cut above that in some other, similar games, and they’re pretty good at hunting you down.
While mission objectives add some variety to gameplay, gunplay is at the heart of Trepang2. There are long stretches where combat flows like fine wine, but it can grow a bit repetitious. For me personally, as someone living in a country where mass shootings happen with depressing regularity, over-the-top gory shooters are starting to lose appeal. Using soldiers as meat shields and mowing down enemies with assault rifles isn’t working for me like it used to. That’s not a knock on the game, or gamers or the developers, or anyone else.
Trepang2 has a pretty narrow focus, but it does the bloody first-person combat genre proud. Kudos to developer Trepang for doing a few things really well and not trying to make the next Call of Duty clone. Trepang2 borrows a few ideas from F.E.A.R. and snags some mechanics from classic shooters, and the result is both fresh and familiar fun.
***PC code provided by the publisher for review***
- Engaging bloody combat
- Fast paced
- Good enemy AI
- Lots of ways to play
- Generic story
- Some bland levels
- Can get repetitious