Bullet-time is one of the tried-and-true pillars of shooters thanks to the influence of Max Payne. Trepang2 is the sequel to an old game jam that the devs decided to expand into a full title. With just a cursory glance, it’s immediately clear that the game is partially meant as a homage to FEAR, Monolith Soft’s horror FPS from the mid 00s. The first level of the game isn’t shy about playing this up, as you’re placed in the shoes of Subject 106 as he escapes from a Horizon compound. Horizon is an evil corporation performing all sorts of immoral experiments and 106 ends up joining the fight against it. There are intel files scattered around and the writing here is surprisingly good, as it’s complete with twists and things ripped straight from the SCP universe.
The early section of Trepang2 takes place in an office building as you shoot down soldiers with whatever weapons you come across. My initial assumption was “this is just a straight spiritual successor to FEAR,” but the thing is that the game absolutely isn’t. It has a similar aesthetic and, yes, you can slow down time and use it to violently put down your enemies, but the design philosophy here is actually totally different. You’re not meant to take potshots at your foes while creeping around cover as much as you’re supposed to run up to your enemies and shoot them in the face. Often while dual wielding any weapon you want. Yay! The focus here is definitely on close-range combat and it’s an enormous amount of fun.
Enemies aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, which facilitates the game design, as you’ll be mixing your firearm shots with kicks and slides that can knock them down. Shooting foes is violent, especially with the shotgun or grenade launcher, as they tend to explode into grisly chunks. Trepang2 is not for the squeamish. You can pick up any weapons enemies drop, as well as their ammo. You’ll also find weapon parts in the levels that you can use to customize your guns. Want to put a scope on that rifle and zoom in since there are no iron sights? Go ahead. Want your shotgun to shoot incendiary rounds that cause enemies to burn to death, writhing and screaming in agony? That’s messed up, but you can do it!
Give ’em blood, gallons of the stuff
There are six main levels in Trepang2 and they’re not particularly long (you can beat the campaign in four-to-five hours,) but they’re remarkably varied. One level has you assaulting cultists in a castle. Another sees you struggling to survive underground against waves of mutants. That’s right, you don’t just fight soldiers, but some horror foes as well. One level even has you sneaking from a strange entity that moves about in a black cloud. There are some boss battles too! The level design is mostly good and the variety leads to extra replayability.
On top of the campaign missions, there are also side missions. Most of these drop you in a map and task you with accomplishing something while fighting a certain number of enemy waves. Others occasionally have different goals, such as having you search under a strange unfinished house. While the game is short, completing all the side missions in addition to the main campaign might take you seven or eight hours, so there’s a solid amount of content here. There are combat simulator missions you can play in a bunch of maps, meaning that there’s a lot of extra content here for anyone who just enjoys blasting foes. You can even unlock cheats by beating missions on certain difficulties. There are a lot of difficulties, so it honestly isn’t a stretch to say that Trepang2 can last a whole lot longer than the bare minimum of beating the campaign.
Unlocking all of the cheats is far from easy, though. One of the best cheats is unlimited focus, but you’ll need to beat a side mission on the game’s hardest difficulty. Good luck with that. Trepang2 is an excellent, violent first-person shooter with a lot of ingenuity and, more importantly, some really terrific gameplay. Higher difficulties will really test you and force you to make the most of 106’s abilities, especially the cloaking ability which isn’t nearly as necessary on lower difficulties. If you’re looking for a fast, vicious FPS with a fair amount of content to bite into, this is easily one of the best games of the year for that. Just don’t get your hopes up about unlocking that unlimited focus.
Trepang2: Trepang2 is a fierce, visceral game with some of the most satisfying action you can find. – Andrew Farrell