Genetic Disaster left early access a bit too early and lacks some content and polish, but it can still deliver some fun in co-op with twin-stick goodness all around.
Type: Single-player, Online Co-Op
Developer: Team8 Studio
Publisher: Team8 Studio
Release date: 18 Dec, 2017
Genetic Disaster is a top-down 2D twin stick shooter, mainly oriented towards co-op play. In this game, you can impersonate one of the available heroes, each having distinct abilities, and then start your adventure through procedurally-generated dungeons filled with traps and enemies. Some of the gameplay choices vaguely remind me of The Binding Of Isaac, but only vaguely… i have to say, this game is a decent shooter, but lacks some gameplay components and technical polish to really shine.
Genetic Disaster is a classic and straightforward top down shooter. The gameplay consists of each player controlling a character who can be equipped with different weapons depending on what you happen to find throughout the dungeon. Each of them are able to carry a maximum of two weapons simultaneously. Levels are not particularly articulate and often have a main path along with several side paths for additional rewards or access to facilities like shops or arenas, but are these paths are more than sufficient even if the dungeon generation sometimes leads to awkward, nonsensical paths like bridges leading into dead ends. Each room of the dungeon will spawn enemies according to the number of players. More players mean more enemies, so some rooms are more challenging than others and often lead to reward boxes, containing money or weapons. Note that each run of this game is rogue-like, meaning there are no checkpoints or saves, and when it’s over, you have to restart from the beginning of the game. Usually in roguelike games there is a persistent progression component that rewards players with the more runs they accomplish, but in this case we found no such system. This means each run does not unlock passive rewards or bonuses as is common in roguelikes, which is a very debatable gameplay choice.
Combat is the most classic twin-stick shooter-like you can imagine: enemies spawn all around you and players have to dodge bullets while shooting back the enemy to defeat them. Each player has a somewhat limited HP pool and healing items are quite rare, so dodging and defeating enemies fast is important to progress and not get overwhelmed. We can safely say this title is mainly skill-based as far as combat goes, which is good. Each hero has a unique ability to help himself or the team, though I noticed not all of them are equally useful. Some of them are (like the Shield Dome) while some others are near useless (like the Rage Shot). In between some levels, players will be able to access a roster of different passive abilities they can purchase with gold accumulated in previous levels, and use them to upgrade their characters with useful skills, like having more health, a faster walking speed and many more. So, there is some kind of progression but always limited to the current session and lost on death.
While procedural generation helps in keeping the gameplay fresh, the fact that there is no persistent progression after the sessions (like with, for example, passive unlockable abilities, or new characters and weapons unlockable only through specific requirements, etc.) really limits the experience and the game soon becomes repetitive by losing the sense of “global progression” that is one of the main factors in roguelike games. Also the quite limited variety of enemies, the absence of mini-bosses and such, and the overall not so varied quantity of events and variables present, do not contribute in making this game good content-wise, quite the opposite in fact.
Balancing quality is overall sufficient, but just barely so. Some weapons of very high rarity are pretty much useless or a waste of ammo, while others are largely overpowered and useful, while some others are in the middle of these two situations. Overall, the game is somewhat balanced by the quantity of enemies and the rarity of healing items / stations, weapons need to be powerful to overcome such difficulties. However, in some cases they are too powerful or too useless, this factor only being determined by sheer luck. In my opinion, the main thing that should be adjusted is a reworking of some weapons to be more efficient and increasing enemy ammo drops because running out of ammo in a twin stick shooter is a comic thing to happen.
This game delivers some decent challenge even on the first levels, with increasing difficulty the more you proceed forward. Mainly, the challenge is given by the rarity of healing items, so every bullet you get hit by plays a big part in your eventual defeat. The challenge can be more or less significant also because of luck, finding the right weapons can dramatically improve your odds, while finding useless ones will not. Overall, it felt like a good challenge.
The visuals in Genetic Disaster are quite a sight, being fully 2D and presumably hand drawn with a remarkable and original style. While there is a visible absence of modern, advanced effects such as shaders, dynamic shadows, projected lights, and so on, the style chosen by the developers works in delivering the toon-like, light-hearted atmosphere they probably had in mind with this game.
Sound effects are frankly quite boring and generic, and so is the soundtrack, it does not give that much needed energy and adrenaline any twin stick shooter soundtrack should give out, emphasizing speed and rushing forward towards the unknown. Not very good in this field.
Apart from the game stopping to respond when loading, leading to gigantic loading times when a run is first started, there are no other mentionable problems about performance.
Nothing to report.
Enemy AI is what you can expect from a twin stick shooter: a simple follow and shoot when in sight script, which is totally alright.
Quality of Life
The control system with a gamepad is really not good, I had a very hard time aiming and controlling the character using a gamepad. After that, I resorted to mouse and keyboard which was so much better and did not have any particular problems.
Bugs / Issues
When using a gamepad, you cannot resurrect your fallen teammates in a run. You can’t! My friend and I tried many button combinations (he was using the gamepad) and it just did not work, and is nowhere to be found in any menu. This is quite a big problem. Also, there is NO OPTIONS MENU! This game quite frankly left early access a bit too soon don’t you think?
Genetic Disaster is a sufficient twin stick shooter that lacks depth and variety, and also polish, but otherwise delivers a good challenge and can be fun with some friends. At the proposed price in our opinion is not advisable to buy at full price and is better to wait for a sale. If there are patches to address these problems, it would greatly improve the game overall.