July 26, 2016
Double Fine Productions
Adult Swim Games
Put on those bell-bottoms, let your hair down, and let’s groove in Headlander, a game from the masterminds at Double Fine Productions, published by Adult Swim Games. I’m Weise, aka Thomas, and I’d like to invite you to join me in this retro-futuristic, side-scrolling, action-adventure game set in a world inspired by 70’s science fiction. Be sure to check out my other reviews on the channel and watch me live at Beam.pro/WeiseGamer.
Welcome to the future, a utopia for humans, who have all gave up their bodies to live in robot suits that allow them to be immortal, free from disease, free from harm, and so much more. But they are NOT as free as they thought! The evil AI ruler of the utopia Methuselah has actually enslaved humanity and can control these robot-human hybrids.
You are humanity’s last hope, possibly the only person with an all human head, preserved in a futuristic space helmet that resembles the head jars from Futurama. You must land on various heads (hence the name of the game), taking control of the robots to move through the world and take down Methuselah, freeing humanity from her control.
When you start the game, you are merely a head in a helmet, able to fly around through a propulsion mechanism within the helmet itself. In a kind of RPG style, you unlock various abilities as you play through a skill tree menu which will allow you to do things like rip off the heads of robots walking around, have a higher durability so you take less damage, and much more.
Early on, you are introduced to a core gameplay element that almost acts like a light puzzle mechanic. Various security doors have color codes that will only open for guards of the same color. So for example, if you want to get through a red door, you need to take over the body of a red robot guard, shoot his phaser at the door, and walk through. There are security levels, so some higher ranked “colors” will allow you to pass through the lower rank ones as well. Through this means, you can progress through more and more of the world, completing side quests along the way as you continue down the path to save humanity.
Visually this game blew me away. Double Fine Productions did a fantastic job setting the theme of this as a retro-70’s futuristic world. Throughout your travels, you’ll come across disco dance parties, robots with afro heads, bell bottoms, and so much more. The 70’s disco theme is present throughout the entire game and is extremely fluid.
The detail in the phasers, the robots themselves, the environment and destructible cover elements is just perfect and I couldn’t have asked for more.
When you play Headlander, you are given a COMPLETE game that sets you in the world of this futuristic 70’s sci-fi environment. As mentioned with the visuals, the audio sets the scene perfectly from the start with a retro feel, that’s groovy and hip and makes you want to boogie.
Take that soundtrack and match it with great voice acting and you have a winning combination. Earl, the voice in your helmet that guides you throughout the game, was casted perfectly and the scripting and lines used are wonderful. Your character is a mute, but all the citizens, err, robot citizens, have their own voices as well and truly have some character behind them.
Finally, the sound effects are just great. Overall, they did an amazing job with the audio here. The blasters sound right, the destructible environment sounds right, ripping off the head of a robot sounds right, it’s just really a pleasant experience all around.
Replay-ability is really the only area this game is lacking. It’s a fairly short game overall, and even if you wanted to 100% the game with all the achievements, it can be done in less hours than some may prefer. But honestly, the quality over quantity phrase is key here for me. This game was very enjoyable from start to finish for me and well-polished.
The main replay-ability mechanic would be to complete the game with 100%, finishing all the side quests and getting every achievement. While this is fine, it really doesn’t leave much to come back for outside of just enjoying the mechanics of the game, and I do wish there was a little more to do.
Overall, I definitely suggest picking up this game, if not at full price, on a sale. To me, it’s worth playing through due to the high quality and polish of the game. Again, there is not much replay-value to be had unless you are an achievement hunter and want to 100% the game, but it is a very fun experience that played to my metroidvania nostalgia in a fun world that felt complete all the way through. As always, I’ll have all the relevant links in the description below. You can watch me play this and other great games live at Beam.pro/WeiseGamer. I’ve been Weise, aka Thomas, and I thank you for watching.
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