One of my favorite indie games in recent years has to be Broforce. It’s a 2D side-scrolling action game that puts you in the role of ’80s action heroes. Door Kickers: Action Squad channels a similar spirit.
Door Kickers: Action Squad is a retro-inspired side-scroller that puts you in the boots of a SWAT officer. You’ll keep down doors, kill bad guys, rescue hostages, and blow shit up all with beautiful pixel art that will remind you of the SNES days.
One thing that I want to mention right away: this game is challenging. I consider that a good thing, considering this is meant to mimic 8 and 16-bit games. However, if you are easily intimidated, you can always have a friend join in to help make things easier.
So the premise is pretty straightforward. First, you need to pick a SWAT member. The game has a number of different options to choose from, each with their own unique weapons and abilities. Playing through the game multiple times as different characters will change how the game plays out and extend the game’s length without feeling stale.
Each level starts off with your character ready to storm a building. Most of the buildings are low or mid-rise, and some have underground areas as well. Enemies are scattered throughout the levels in their own rooms, which they generally speaking don’t leave. I say generally because they will come after you if they see you through a window or an open door.
Speaking of doors, you’re going to kick down a lot of them. Some are unlocked, so you can just walk in, but others are locked. These take three kicks, although you can plant charges on a door to blast it open even faster. Other doors are reinforced and require key cards.
The enemies in Door Kickers: Action Squad are predictable, although the game tends to be unforgiving if you make a tactical mistake. Even with your SWAT gear, you’ll only survive a few shots.
Enemies carry everything from knives and pistols to shotguns and sub-machine guns. Some even wear suicide bomber vests, which you have to either surprise from behind or take out from a distance to avoid getting blown to smithereens. The enemies don’t surprise you with weapons, though; each enemy is a distinct enemy type with their own unique look.
The game supports both a one player mode and a two-player co-op. The co-op is available for both couch and online. I have to say, it’s nice that they made it playable with couch co-op and online, although I did not successfully find another player to join me when I tried to play online.
Door Kickers really shines with the couch co-op. I say couch co-op instead of split-screen co-op because the game does not split the screen. Both players share the same screen. This encourages players to work together strategically rather than run off and do their own thing.
One of the downsides is that the controls are a little wonky at first. They take some getting used to; even then I slipped up every now and then. Rather than firing with one of the triggers, you fire with square, reload with circle, and jump with X; R1 uses your equipment, while L1 allows you to select a power-up.
The game has a number of them, by the way. You can acquire armor, health, a respawn (for yourself or a second player in co-op), an extra life, and an ultimate, such as sniper support. The power-ups are charged from neutralizing enemies and rescuing hostages.
The power-ups make the game a lot easier. Without them, you’d be hard-pressed to clear most levels beyond the first several. Still, you do actually have to earn the power-ups. The game rewards you for doing well, which is what good games do.
And this is a good game. Even if it can be frustrating at times, the challenge feels like it gets paid off when you ultimately clear a stage. It is satisfying. The gameplay isn’t the only satisfying part, either. The graphics, music, and sound effects are wonderful throwbacks, making for a well-rounded indie game.
Game Freaks 365 received a free review copy.