Monday, August 8, 2016

Headlander Review: 70's Retro Future Style with A Rocket Head

You play a disembodied head in a helmet which can fly around powered by rockets and can suck off robot heads of the denizens of the future where humanities consciousness rests within machines. Grab a shepherd, a robotic bad robot and you get lasers of different colors to ricochet off their heads and get new bodies. Say hi, to Headlander. The future that came from the 70's.

A spiffy logo from Cory Schmitz; Adult Swim Games and Double Fine bring us a Metroidvania
insta-classic filled with some dark sci-fi fun thinking that makes 70's sci-fi seem modern. Headlander had me from the start of waking to find the future a bit different, also my body was missing.

Comments from those with strange chips in their heads that let them "live forever" and makes you feel a little less bad about decapitation are the citizens of the future. They are quite funny about asking what smell is (robots don't have noses) or when they look at you on a robotic dog saying, 'That's one ugly dog." Humanity has lost itself or a least human form. The same chips, controlled by the big bad, Methuselah, kind of makes everyone an idiot.

Don't worry though, they're are killer robots trying to kill ya' called shepherds. Just remove their heads and gain the ability to open doors based on the color of their rank. Oh, and lasers. Lasers that let you kill more shepherds.

Now killing shepherds can come easy if you zap their heads off. You can aim laser sand bounce them off multiple angles to get heads and enemies around corners adding a little thought to gameplay. Or like me you can shoot all crazy and use your vacuum ability to rip of heads and explode their bodies with power-ups you can buy later on in the game.

Docking in another person's neck-hole never felt so right. The strange gameplay of removing an enemy's head and then becoming that enemy is an easy step that you would have though games have been doing it for a while now. It's just outta sight. Big battles, with multiple shepherds offering a rainbow of death lasers out to get you will  feel fine when you rip their robot brains out.

Hidden spots and head holes dot the long maps with a few side quests. To gain special abilities, like making a headless robot companion shoot for you, you've got to find these head-outs, I mean hide-outs.
Earl, will guide ya, a soft-spoken cowboy voice who wants to figure out what's going on just as much as you do. Earl can croon if he wanted to in a ballad about some bad future. Seriously, I want Earl to sell me some chili.

During my gameplay the game did just stop working twice out of the blue for no reason, progress saved.This was during my entire play through. Even though for the price tag I felt like Double Fine may have wanted to do more and scaled it back to finish it in time of a realistic release date. No spoilers, but the ending really needed an explosion of some sort. It was an odd choice on how things end and I'm not talking it being confusing or ambiguous it's like someone forgot to add an explosion.

Headlander had me lost in a cloud, I couldn't put in down for hours. A fun game to get lost in with plenty of hidden spots for your head to go. One of the best shorter games that has come out this year. Go on a head trip and play Headlander.

Headlander is out on Steam and PS4.

Reviewer was provided game by publisher for review purposes. PS4 Version