Every once in a while, as gamers we just want to turn our minds off and decompress by turning on something without the emotions and intrigue of some of today’s top games. Sometimes you just genuinely want an opportunity to destroy everything in your path. Top down action shooter Livelock offers this up in a simple but fun product.
The story of Livelock is generic and straight forward; humanity on the verge of extinction sealed themselves away but not before creating a series of intelligent robots that would activate a place known as Eden where humanity could restart. However, things happened sooner than expected and the world fell to pieces before everything could be set. The game puts you in the role of one of three Capital Intellects (read: AI robots) and your job is to reclaim keys to Eden from the evil robot factions that inhibit the world.
The whole story took roughly four hours to complete across three increasingly short chapters. The plot is very basic with a twist you can see coming from the first mission and an ending that is very cliché and feel good. Thus, the story mode offers little to write home about. Characters are all simple archetypes you have seen before; the animalistic monster, the controlling elitist, you’ve seen them all before. To be clear the story is not bad, it’s just not special or meaningful. The three characters from which you can choose from are generic and forgettable; emotional resonance is not something you will likely experience in this game. This simple story also plays into the gameplay as a whole.
The top down shooter is nothing new and Livelock fits in the established formula pretty well. Get from point A to point B destroying everything in your path. Once you start the game you choose from three “chassis” that, much like the game itself, are simple but fun. The chassis are the “Hex,” “Vanguard” and “Catalyst,” each of these have their own weapons and playstyle allowing you to pick your niche.
Hex is your ranger; he carries automatic long rifles and is good and taking out enemies from afar. Vanguard is the brute of the group carrying a melee weapon and two high damage secondary weapons making him the tip of the spear for most engagements. Finally, Catalyst is the support engineer having tools that heal allies and de-buff enemies. Each chassis is customizable unlocking different weapons and skills that you can customize along with some elements of their appearance.
The options aren’t many and you will likely max out one chassis in a single play through, but they are appreciated. These chassis each feel very different from each other and allow you to really decide how you want to play. This class system also lends itself to co-op which is easily one of the game’s best features. Playing the game alone can be fun the first time through but to truly enjoy Livelock it has to be played in co-op. The straight forward gameplay shines when you and two friends tear through armies of faceless robots with bright colors and explosions covering the screen. This can help cover up the simplicity in its story mode as most missions are just the same thing with another name for the objective slapped on.
Luckily, between these objectives are a number of original and interesting enemy variants that are constantly growing as you continue. Within each of the three chapters of the game there is a different faction you face. Each one, while cliché in design, offer up different challenges for combat forcing you to adapt for each scenario. The game also offers that once you’re done with the short campaign you can move into the wave survival mode which offers more of the same straight forward and explosive sprite gameplay.
Speaking of sprites, artistically Livelock is, well, okay. Graphics themselves aren’t bad by any means. The effects and sprites are generally on point other than noticeably in one mission in particular where a “laser” comes down and destroys some debris in a really uninspiring and disappointing way.
If there was one major complaint to the artistic choice in this game it was the lack of music. Music can truly save simple gameplay if it makes it feel fun and intense. I found myself feeling none of those things with my experience in this game. Generally, there was no music with only the hollow sounds of stock explosions and gun fire filling the speakers. This lack of inspired sound design often had me growing bored when I was moving from one place to another with no combat involved. All of these continue to add onto Livelock’s simple and straightforward style making the game just feel basic and par for the course.
Livelock is a game that had a few interesting ideas but never really grew beyond its core essentials. It is by no means a bad game but I wouldn’t call it a good one either. It is simply okay. You can certainly have fun in single player mode, however, you may want to bring some friends and a pair of headphones because between the generic story and repetitive gameplay of Livelock feels as cold and machine-like as the robots it destroys.