Screencheat is a first-person shooter game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Screencheat’s origins date back to Global Game Jam 2014 when the game was created a three-man team; having already received the reputation of award winning quality with such awards as Jamers Choice for Best Game at Melbourne Global Game Jam 2014, PAX Aus Indie Showcase at Penny Arcade 2014, Technical Excellence at Australian Game Developer Awards 2015 and Most Innovative Games and Best Multiplayer Game at Indie Prize 2015.
There is no story as the game is all about utilising its unique concept of deliberately screencheating to have fun, although there is a single player mission focused campaign called Time Trials which is designed to train players in the art of screencheating. Time Trials features three modes including a Basic Timed Run in which the player must shoot all dummies and beat the goal time using only the Blunderbuss weapon and Endless Training which allows the player to shoot dummies for as long as you want with free weapon switching, while there is an unlockable Advanced Timed Run that is unlocked by earning a bronze medal in the Basic Timed Run mode in which the player shoots all of the dummies and beats the goal time. Basic Timed Run and Advanced Time Run have three medals with a mission time limit attached to achieving the bronze, silver and gold medals with each medal requirement progressively getting harder to accomplish from bronze through gold, while each map from the 11 on offer must be unlocked for play within the Time Trials mode by succeeding in the medal conditions, although all 11 maps are freely available in other modes and none of the customisation options are allowed.
There are 9 game modes including My First Deathmatch which is the game mode players should start on when learning how to become accustomed to the premise of the game before encountering any further match stipulations. Capture the Fun is a riff on Capture the Flag, although the flag is replaced with a Piñata which has to be held onto in order to progressively earn points; while Hillcampers sees players having to stand on the hill for an accumulative duration to win; Gold Rush positions coins around the map which players have to collect and hold onto; and Juggernaut provides a scenario in which only the juggernaut can score resulting in the juggernaut needing to be killed in order for a player to take their juggernaut weapon and have the ability to score. Further game modes include Elimination which requires a player to be the last one standing to earn points; Bombs Away sees players grabbing the bombs to destroy their opponents’ bases; One Shot adds a stipulation in which reloading cannot take place until everyone has fired their weapon or the 15 second timer expires which provides a tactical element to the gameplay by making you guarantee your accuracy before firing your weapon, firing near to the timer expiration or running for cover after firing and missing; and Murder Mystery provides a mode reminiscent of Cluedo as players have to follow the provided clues. In addition to the 9 game modes; there is also a Party Mode that randomly selects a game mode for each round played, while every game mode can be played in the standard solo, as a team with exception to the Juggernaut game mode and even in custom forms.
Mutators are unlocked as rewards for reaching level 5 onwards and upwards to as high as level 31 with a total of 17 mutators to unlock such as Flappy Jump which allows players to jump up to seven times consecutively to reach a higher altitude; Martyrdom which spawns a bomb nearby when a player has been killed and may provide a kill even after being defeated by an enemy; The Haunting sees character ragdolls frantically fly around the surrounding environment; Hyper Mode and Slow Mode which speeds everything up and slows everything down respectively including timers; and many more mutators besides. The mutators can add some strategic value to the gameplay such as utilising the Flappy Jump mutator to remain elevated in mid-air for a few seconds at a time to be less likely of being shot by an opponent, while experimenting with combining multiple mutators together is encouraged to create fun, frantic and unique experiences.
There are a plethora of customisation options in addition to the game modes, maps and mutators including the available weaponry during a match resulting in the ability to have only one or two weapons for players to utilise or any amount up to the maximum number of weapons and a score limit can be set between 0 and 50 or alternatively the match winner can be determined by the highest amount of points scored within a time limit which can have a duration of hours. It does not end there as there as there are unlockable ragdoll characters and weapon skins as well as a range of advanced game mode settings such as penalties for accidentally falling off the side of a map, how players can swap their weapons, showing or disabling weapon trails, the ability to deter anyone from camping by showing campers, respawn delay, one shot reloading and even the ability to adjust the amount of points earned when a player kills an enemy as well as the choice of instantaneously converting a 2, 3 or 4 player game into an 8 player game. Most impressively of all is the opportunity of saving your customised game mode and providing it with a name and description, therefore providing immediate access to your customised settings and experimental mutator combinations rather than having to change the settings for each individual match.
Earning XP naturally by participating with more XP earned for killing more opponents, scoring points and finishing as high up the scoreboard as possible with the added importance on earning XP as it moves the player towards attaining the next level which results in the player being rewarded with a new customisation option when having reached the appropriate level.
There are 10 weapons to choose from which all deliver one shot kills when aimed accurately at your invisible enemies such as the Blunderbuss that is best utilised at short range, a grenade launcher that can be used at short, medium and long range based upon the correct trajectory of the shot, a Revolver Rifle that is most effective at long range but can be used at shorter ranges too and more imaginative weaponry such as the Hobby Horse which provides much increased speed and a sword to slay enemies during close quarters combat and the wall_Hacker which allows players to shoot through multiple objects and walls by providing a white laser sighting which can be clearly seen on your opponents’ screens to identify how close your aim is from hitting an enemy and many more twists on weapons.
The character design comprises of ragdoll silhouettes that appear after a player has been defeated which then remain around the map for the duration of the match, while the environment design is quite varied as there are 11 maps with environments set throughout such locations as museums, a garden, manor, temples and more besides which have diverse methods of traversal including lifts, steps and even air vents. The maps have unique premises such as two museums containing various artwork and architecture, Helix which is situated high above the clouds and a map called Loop which actually goes around in circles providing an alternative feeling to how players would usually traverse through the environment. Every map comprises of colourful and bright environments that divides each map into quadrants of colours which effectively designates a true indicator of where each opponent is standing and is a very important gameplay mechanic given that all enemies are invisible.
There are a variety of control schemes which are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the default control scheme consisting of pressing L2 or R2 to fire weaponry; pressing R1 or L1 to cycle to the next or previous weapon respectively; pressing X to jump; pressing triangle to invert aim; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to aim; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. The multiple alternative control schemes make subtle changes such as the southpaw control scheme which moves shooting from R2 to L2 and switching around the left and right analogue sticks which provides a control scheme that will suit the preferences of every player. Touch pad implementation allows players to tap the touch pad to view the scoreboard, while the light bar represents the colour of your character such as a light shade of blue, green or yellow, alongside vibration from the DualShock 4 controller when firing a weapon and a moderate vibration when landing after a long jump.
Graphically, Screencheat is exceptional as it is incredibly colourful and very stylised in its approach to showcasing an environment with art and architecture that genuinely ties into the subject matter of the surrounding environment on each given map, while the weapons look great as do the weapon trails when a weapon has been fired and the ragdolls that appear and remain after a character has been killed.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, game mode menus, multiplayer menus, time trials menus, options menu and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad, face buttons and tapping the touch pad, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick. The background of the menu screens consists of ragdoll characters falling from the top of the screen in a variety of shapes, sizes, poses and colours such as blue, green, orange and red which reflects the generally rather quite colourful approach to the presentation of the game.
Voice-overs consist of three styles of announcing the action including a silly announcer, brutal announcer and an Aussie announcer, while sound effects mostly include firing weapons accompanied by the sound effect of weapons being reloaded, air vent jumps and coins being collected during Gold Rush mode, alongside upbeat arcade style music interspersed with some dance beats and catchy rock riffs. The DualShock 4 speaker produces a sound effect upon every occasion the player scores a kill against an opponent.
The trophy list includes 35 trophies with 24 bronze trophies, 5 silver trophies, 5 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. The easiest trophies have to be the Life of the Party bronze trophy for playing 20 rounds in a row in Party Mode as participation is all that is required rather than winning and the Just Getting Started bronze trophy for gaining enough XP to reach level 5. Pretty much all of the trophy list is hard as the majority of the trophies require genuine skill to be earned such as the You’ll Have a Ball silver trophy for getting a quad kill or more with a single Chefolet ball; the This Is My Raifu, This Is My Gun gold trophy for getting 4 kills without reloading the Revolver Rifle; the I See You bronze trophy for killing an opponent through multiple objects. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 15 to 25 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are three difficulty levels including easy, normal and dream crusher with the major difference being an increased level of aggressiveness from every A.I. opponent in the match as you could perform at the same level as you would on easy difficulty when playing on dream crusher difficulty and quite easily end up finishing last in next to no time at all, therefore you really have to be bringing your A+ performance before even thinking about playing on the dream crusher difficulty.
The split-screen multiplayer has the same standard of performance as the single player when playing against bots with all of the same content for 2 to 4 players to play offline locally in a horizontal, full horizontal or vertical screen split with a further 4 players added in the form of bots to make for an 8 player offline game. The online multiplayer performance is flawless as it performs at the same quality as the single player and split-screen multiplayer components with the ability to search for an online multiplayer match via matchmaking or to host an online game yourself. Better yet is the ability to actually be able to have anywhere from 2 to 8 players and a minimum of 1 or 2 bots through to having all 7 competitors as bots which are gradually replaced with human players as they join the game without any interruption to the game, therefore allowing an online game to begin as immediately as you would prefer instead of having to annoyingly wait for players to join your lobby as bots are able to provide an appropriate quality of competition until human players arrive. The customisation options are as open as the single player and split-screen multiplayer as all standard single and team game modes, maps and unlocked mutators can be chosen, while such details as custom game modes, weapon selection, advanced game mode settings and more besides can be altered to apply to your online multiplayer preferences when hosting a game.
There are no online leaderboards which is surprising as the Time Trials single player mode would have fitted the formula perfectly with a set of leaderboards representing the fastest times on the Basic Timed Run and Advanced Time Run spread across every map, while each of the nine game modes could have had a leaderboard for their respective objectives such as the total amount of coins collected in Gold Rush and more besides during online multiplayer in both standard solo and team game modes.
It would have been great to experience a story, the ability to create maps via a level editor and online leaderboards to provide an additional competitive edge on a worldwide scale, but there is still a vast amount of replayability which stems from the unique concept of having to screencheat with the Time Trials single player mode acting as a tutorial for teaching players how to play the game, while there are imaginative environments spread across 11 maps which is complimented by plenty of game modes, mutators, customisation and original weaponry, alongside an amazing local split-screen multiplayer component for 2 to 4 players and an online multiplayer component for 2 to 8 players which will collectively have players returning for dozens of hours.
Overall, Screencheat is more than just a unique premise as it is actually the most entertaining and purely fun party game since Bishi Bashi Special and Crash Bash on PS1, therefore it is not only highly recommended for fans of the first-person shooter genre, tactical and thought provoking shooters given the unique premise of enemies being invisible, but also party games and anyone looking for an exceptional local multiplayer and online multiplayer experience.
Developer: Samurai Punk
Publisher: Surprise Attack
Original Release Date: October 21, 2014 | Console: March 1, 2016
Platforms: PS4 (Reviewed), PC, Xbox One, Linux, OS X
ESRB Rating: E10+ – Everyone 10 and up
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.