If there is one gaming genre that has persisted over the stretch of time, it’s been the arcade/shooter genre. “Galaga”, “Space Invaders”, “Spy Hunter”, “Life Force”, “Gradius”…the list goes on. “Pressure” is one such game and puts the player (and a friend if they so choose) in a customizable steam buggy set in a Steampunk world. Your mission? Stop the Dark Lord from taking control of all of the water sources throughout the kingdom. Before we begin taking a look at this game in further detail, I’d like to thank Jörn Karl Fahrbach from TopWare Interactive for providing me with a free review copy.
The main menu allows the player to play single or multiplayer, view a slide show that shows them the controls and teaches them about the pressure mechanic, adjust settings, and check out high scores. The settings menu addresses screen resolution (though not vary many), gamma, quality, audio volumes, and language. While there is a way to view your controls (via the help menu), you won’t be able to adjust your keybinds in any way. Multiplayer features both local and online modes, should you wish to bring a friend in on the fun. My gripe about multiplayer however is that there is no way to assign control schemes to a specific player. I got the impression that player one was forced to use the keyboard while player two needed a controller. Online leaderboards are available, mainly for bragging rights.
When starting a new game, you’ll have the option to choose between three different difficulty levels. The interface is slick and easy to read. Along the top is a progress bar, allowing you to see how far you are along in the level. Your health, money earned, points, and pressure are all displayed in the top left hand corner of the screen, with your secondary weapon meter displayed in the lower left. If you have another player with you, their information will be displayed on the right side of the screen. In addition to having to keep an eye on health, you’ll need to watch your pressure gauge. Your buggy’s pressure level will decrease automatically as you make your way across the level. You can fill it by defeating enemies and crossing checkpoints, so it’s important to keep moving forward.
As for the gameplay itself, there’s a racing element to the game that compliments the arcade/shooter portions. Unlike “Ikari Warriors” and “Contra”, you’re encouraged to keep moving forward whether you want to or not. Standing still is possible, but your pressure gauge will still tick away and if it empties, game over. Not only will you have to dispatch enemies that happen to be in your way, but you’ll need to keep an eye out for coins in the environment. Bosses make an appearance, and you’ll know them when you see them. Like other scrolling shooters I’ve played, the bosses here are larger than life and will pose quite a challenge.
I think my favorite feature in this game is the ability to upgrade your steam buggy. The game features over sixty primary weapons, secondary weapons, and extras, so there’s quite a bit of customization available. In between missions, you’ll use the money you collect to make your steam buggy that much more formidable. You’ll be able to upgrade your chassis, primary weapons, secondary weapons, and rams. Needless to say, you’ll want to pick up those coins during a level whenever possible. You can view a map and replay prior levels, if you wish.
Overall, “Pressure” is a fast-paced, light-hearted experience that will keep you engaged from beginning to end. The animated cutscenes are well done and the gameplay is fast and furious. It doesn’t do anything overly special or out of the ordinary, but it’s still the kind of game that you can turn on when you’re tired of thinking and just want to go and blow stuff up. It could stand to be a bit more user-friendly…that is, allow players to customize their keybinds and control schemes, especially for local co-op play. The game is going for $14.99 full price, but is currently on sale (as of 3/27/13) for $9.99 on Steam. It’s worth checking out if you enjoy hi-speed shooters. A demo is available via the links below, should you wish to try before you buy.
Final Verdict: 7/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Pressure” by visiting the following websites:
You can view gameplay videos here: