I don’t like to be mean when writing reviews but I don’t think I have a choice when it comes to ‘Troubleshooter’, the latest product from Turkish developers Kodobur. When I saw it on the PSN store, a twin-stick shooter with an inventive name for less than the price of a pint of Guinness, I thought “How bad could it be?”. Lets just say I would have enjoyed a pint of Guinness for longer than I enjoyed playing Troubleshooter. I’m going to take as long to review this game as the developers likely took designing it. Seconds.
Troubleshooter is a co-op twin stick shooter with a single block-based arena with different textures on the floor for reasons only known to its creators. In this arena, played via an almost top down perspective, you’re tested to shoot your wand at voxel dinosaurs as they fall from the sky while avoiding the rocks falling by keeping an eye out for their shadows. It’s an endless wave shooter so once you die, you start all over again in the same arena against the same enemy types. Thus ends the positive section of this review.
There’s no plot to Troubleshooter. There’s no given reason as to why your character, clad with a wand and looking like the Fly machine mash-up of Crossy Road and Minecraft, is fighting dinosaurs. This isn’t one of those charming games that have intended mystique either. It’s just thrown together at random.
The AI in Troubleshooter has the dinosaurs walking directly at you. They won’t deviate from that path for falling rocks or what few structures exist in the level. They’ll just walk into them. This kind of basic enemy interaction means there’s just one tactic to employ in this game – walk backwards and shoot at the enemies until they die. Rinse. Repeat. Ad nauseam. The only way you’ll die is when you get swamped by too many enemies at once or your patience gives out and you give up. It’s the latter more often than not because the game is so very bland. If Troubleshooter was an ice-cream flavour, it’d be the frost build-up at the bottom of the freezer.
When the dinosaurs do get close enough, they’ll take a half a heart of life from your 3 heart life bar. There’s no attack animation. I guess the player has to presume the dinosaur is biting them? Each dinosaur type has a different health gauge which depletes slower per landed shot depending on the size of the dinosaur. The longer you survive, the more difficult and numerous the dinosaurs become.
Your wand, the only weapon in your arsenal, fires at a painfully slow pace. The projectiles move at a similarly sluggish pace. Each shot is accompanied by a sound effect that becomes irritating in less than minute. Because the wand sticks out from the body, and the projectiles fire from its end, it’s possible for the dinosaur foes to get inside the range of the wand. It’s simply poor design.
You can pick up temporary power ups from boxes which spawn in the field. These come in a variety of flavours – fire, frost, electricity – but they do the same thing and give you an added damage output per spell blast. Of course there’s something irritating with these too. The boxes these power-up’s spawn in require a spell blast to open and 50% of the time, the shots that land don’t register and the box stays closed. Because of course they do.
Troubleshooter is accompanied by a chipper soundtrack that sounds as though it’d be well suited for a quarterly sales PowerPoint presentation for a double glazing company. It has corporate cheese dripping from its blips, blops and fruity loops saxophone. Within a few retries at the game, you’ll have heard the tracks repeat enough to want to mute the game forever.
The incentive to play Troubleshooter beyond masochism is to unlock various skins for your character including costume, skin colour, face, hair and hair colour. Every dinosaur you kill adds +1 to your score and once you’ve reached certain high scores, new cosmetic items are unlocked. The issue? Because of the angle you’re playing the game at, you can barely see any of the unlockables when they’re applied. You might as well be playing with any of the pre-unlocked items because it makes not a single iota different to the actual game.
And lastly on this long list of grievances I have with Troubleshooter is that whopping big score box in the bottom right hand corner. I’m not sure whose idea it was to have a score box that big cover up one of the only ways to navigate around that tree at the bottom of the arena but whomever that was needs to take a good long look in the mirror and ask themselves why that might not be the greatest of ideas.
When you click on the “Credits” button in Troubleshooter, you’re simply presented with the Kodobur logo. Maybe that’s a corporate thing, like Atari back in the day not giving individual developers their own credits, or maybe it’s because none of the developers wanted to put their name to this game.
Troubleshooter is ugly, mechanically shallow, stylistically mundane and lacks any kind of innovation. Without a framing or story to give it meaning, it looks like a hodgepodge of assets thrown together with some barely working systems and mechanics built around them. The design flaws are numerous, the soundtrack irritating and it is quite frankly the worst game I’ve played in 2020.
Troubleshooter is available now on PS4 (review platform) and Nintendo Switch.
Developer: Kodobur Yazilim
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we purchased a copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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