‘Trepang2’ Video Game Review – ‘Doom’ Meets the John Woo Horror Movie of Our Dreams

I love when a video game genuinely surprises me. I’ll be the first to admit Trepang2 was not on my radar at all but I was sold when I heard it was a spiritual successor to the F.E.A.R. franchise. There’s been a F.E.A.R. shaped hole in the current landscape of horror-based first person shooters. Trepang2 would’ve impressed me by being a solid clone of it and nothing more. But to my surprise, it’s so much more than that. In fact, I walked away from Trepang2 thinking I had played one of the best damn shooters of the year.

So just what the hell is Trepang2? The game is the debut project of Trepang Studios and sees players take on the role of Subject 106 as he awakens in a black site for the sinister Horizon corporation where they were experimenting on him. With no knowledge of how he got there or what they did to him, he makes a grand escape that acts as the game’s tutorial level. From there 106 links up with Taskforce 27, a group of mercenaries who seem hellbent on taking Horizon down. Together they’ll destroy various black sites filled with unspeakable man made horrors.

This is where Trepang2 kicks into high gear as the gameplay is insanely fast and bloody. 106 can slide into his enemies, knocking them off their feet, and is equipped with the abilities to slow down time and cloak himself. I cannot overstate how absolutely satisfying it is to slow down time and slide into a group of enemies and turn them into a goopy red mist of gore before they even hit the ground. When using his cloaking device, 106 is able to sneak up on unsuspecting enemies and use them as body shields, kill them, or attach a grenade to them and throw them into an unsuspecting group of enemies. One of my absolute favorite abilities though is the brutal as hell drop kick. While meleeing in the air, 106 will stomp his foot on the nearest enemy. It was a habit of mine to slow time, jump in the air and rain my foot down on someone and blast them with a shotgun. 106’s toolkit offers an impressive amount of player freedom. It’s like Trepang Studios saw the abilities from F.E.A.R. and set out to crank up the violence to 11.

Trepang2 is never bogged down by modern trappings of the shooter and instead gives players high speed and the tools to create their own carnage. It gave me the same high as playing Doom (2016) for the first time ever. The only modern trapping that the game falls into is the weapon system. Players can only carry two weapons at any given time and I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of that approach. If 106 can fly through an environment at blistering speeds delivering carnage at every single turn, why in the hell can’t he carry more than two weapons? I wish the game had a weapon wheel of some sort like old-school shooters, but alas I’m stuck with the two weapons I decide to hang on to (pro tip: keep that shotgun).

The level design isn’t the most inspired either, often relying on combat arenas connected through tunnels. It works for the type of game this is but I would’ve liked to see a bit more inspiration in this department. Trepang2 attempts to have a mission base where players can launch into various missions and customize weapons. I never did quite see the point to this entire area and I felt as though it killed the pacing when frantically moving from one level to another. Why are modern shooters obsessed with doing stuff like this?

Where Trepang2 does shine is in tone. Enemies die in horrible gory fashion and environments take a good amount of damage from gun fights. Missions take on a sense of overwhelming dread with dark horror inspired areas and violent shootouts. In some twisted way Trepang2 feels like if John Woo made a bona fide horror film and this had me grinning from ear to ear. Talking briefly on performance, the game ran at a smooth 60fps for me most of the time. The only times I noticed brief slowdown were when there was too much action on screen; trust me, you will hit moments like that but they’re never long enough to have a negative impact on the experience.

Trepang2 absolutely rules. It never reaches the highs of F.E.A.R. nor will it replace it but it’s one of the most buck wild shooters I’ve played in sometime. It’s like someone crossed Doom with a John Woo film and gave it a horror-inspired coat of paint. It’s not a combination that should work but provides a lever of insanity I’ve rarely seen in other games. Trepang2 is one of the biggest surprises of the year. If you’re a horror fan, a shooter fan, or just like your games with a heavy dose of insanity, I highly implore you to play Trepang2.

The game is available now on consoles and PC.

4 out of 5 skulls

Review code provided by the publisher.

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