Humanity dun goofed again and let their hubris take them to space where disaster awaits them in this sci-fi, mutant-mauling, first-person shooter.
Genre: Action, FPS
Developer: Sonaloux Entertainment
Publisher: Sonaloux Entertainment
Release date: 28 February, 2020
Antares is a first-person shooter that takes us to a familiar future where catastrophe has struck on a space base. It’s clear at first glance that it’s a budget title with its recognizable assets, basic audio, and unintelligent monstrosities, and yet, I found myself enjoying it. It isn’t DOOM, Dead Space (or its good sequel), Killing Floor 2 or even a Left 4 Dead 2, but if it’s sold at a reasonable price and you’re looking for a new raw horde shooting experience, there’s some value to be found here.
The Future Is Hell
I often felt a DOOM vibe as I made my way through the Denello Science Facility, not of the modern DOOM but the classics. The futuristic environments are simple but interesting enough and there are several departments to vision in the facility including areas such as the living quarters, the mining facility, and the biotech laboratories.
The story is a bit barebones though I don’t necessarily consider that a flaw given the clear focus of the title. Antares is first and foremost a horde shooter and I felt neutral overall on the details of the setting when I found lore items, though it was a solid backdrop for murder. I synced up with the bloodshed far more than I did the narrative.
The enemies that you face off against reminded me of Dead Space at every turn. They’re grotesque and twisted variations on human anatomy that steadily get more bizarre and dangerous as you accomplish your objectives. Though these new additions are noticeably more dangerous than the standard horde abominations that you face off against, none of them will stand out as being particularly dangerous as long as you pace yourself and always have a backup plan. Unless, of course, you attract attention to yourself during the power down cycle when the power shuts down and monstrosities come out in force, running wild in an attempt to hunt you down and kill you.
Shooting feels spectacular for a title developed by one person and headshots carry a weight that makes them rewarding. Ammo is readily available so the spray-and-pray method may work for those who prefer it, though it may be time-consuming, especially as it seems that you only ever have the assault rifle that you start with. My biggest complaint here is not being able to aim down your sights and when you couple that with right-click being used to activate the dash-teleport, I often got myself into trouble that I shouldn’t have thanks to my shooter muscle memory. An option in the menus to change key bindings would have saved me from a lot of grief. I’m hoping that this is in-game at release.
Outside of your rifle, there are a few capabilities that you have to spice things up. You can ‘dash’ (re: teleport) to anywhere that you can point to with your mouse, and I mean anywhere. At one point, I found myself stuck in an area that clearly wasn’t meant to be accessible and it took me several minutes of exploring a featureless, monsterless area before I found a way to kill myself and respawn (thanks to the teleport to base ability’s long recharge). Your “echo” ability allows you to kick-off bullet time to stave off your foes and seems like a cool enough feature, but I never actually used it. I never felt overwhelmed enough that it didn’t feel like a game-supported method of reducing the intensity and fear of the encroaching hordes, though I didn’t play at the highest difficulties so that may have something to do with it.
There’s a rather robust character progression system in place that’s far more in-depth than anything else you’ll experience in Antares. It involves collecting scrap to upgrade your basic stats (damage, shield capacity, health, etc.) and a wide variety of materials for plenty of other bonuses, such as an increased rate of fire. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a bad system, it does its job, but it feels out of place for a title that otherwise focuses almost entirely on the art of making things dead without much fluff. I would’ve liked to see something more exciting than passive buffs in it though, something more along the lines of the perk trees from Killing Floor 2 would’ve been great.
Although my first impression of Antares was not a good one, it grew on me once I spent some serious time with it. It isn’t a title that is going to blow you away and cause you to wonder where your entire lazy Sunday went, but it is one that can offer a fun experience to kill some time once in a while. It’s a worthy addition to your shooter library if you’re looking for a new experience, though it’s unlikely to dethrone any of your long-standing favorites. The most impressive aspect of Antares is that it was developed by a single person and it’s far better than it has any reason to be under those circumstances. Pick this title up if you’re looking to mutilate your enemies in a new setting, as long as it’s priced as a budget game on release, though I wouldn’t recommend it over some of the greats that share similar themes.