Trepang² review | What do you get if you put DOOM 2016 and Wolfenstein in a blender? I’m not too sure, but if we add a sprinkle of F.E.A.R. into the mix, we get Trepang2. If you have heard anything about this game lately, you have surely heard the comparisons to the F.E.A.R. franchise, specifically the first entry in that series. Well, for better or worse, that comparison only holds on the surface level.
Trepang2’s gameplay bears more similarities to DOOM 2016 and the new Wolfenstein games, whereas the FEAR comparison is more apt for its setting, story and visuals. The sheer speed of combat and short time to kill in Trepang2 put more emphasis on quick thinking, sharp reflexes and careful use of player abilities in short bursts to take some of the heat off and dive back into cover. The available weapons are mostly grounded and offered as generic categories: Pistol, Shotgun, SMG, Rifle, etc. These can be customised to a certain extent and all of them are incredibly satisfying to use. Two identical weapons can also be dual-wielded, albeit not with the mix-and-match freedom of… other franchises. Alright, I will go ahead and say it: Trepang2’s shotgun deserves a spot in the ever-coveted pantheon of Best Shotguns in Gaming, probably next to FEAR’s and Wolfenstein’s in fact.
In terms of story and setting, you play a superhuman soldier known only as Subject 106, and the first mission involves liberating you from the enemy’s clutches. Once rescued, you’ll start taking operations for the PMC task force who pulled your reverse kidnapping. Your origins, your nature, the mission you are after, your enemies’ objectives, they are all kept deliberately vague. You can find all this information throughout the levels which, coupled with the game’s aesthetics, lighting and incredible particle effects, add a lot of fuel to the F.E.A.R. comparison everyone keeps pointing out.
ℹ️ Reviewed on PC | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Technically brilliant | For a game made by such a small team to run this smoothly, look this good, and play so cleanly is borderline criminal. My PC is running a very old processor and a middle-of-the-road GPU (GTX2060 for anyone interested) yet I could enjoy the visceral carnage of Trepang2 in smooth 60 fps with most settings up to high and with loading times under 5 seconds most of the time. The movement feels fluid, responsive and intuitive, with only some slight awkwardness if you crouch jump while sprinting, which makes you slide when you land. Sound cues are used to great effect, helping you identify enemies trying to flank as well as letting you listen in on their orders and intentions so you can counteract them. And there’s even some levels where you can stop the background music by interacting with a phonograph!
- FPS love letter | There’s no better description for this game. It is a love letter to FPS games, mixing some of the best aspects of old and new games of the genre in a tasteful way. Traditional linear level structure, insane difficulty levels, horde maps with assets you can buy in the level, a firing range to test weapons, customisable weapons, lore documents as collectables, gratifying melee attacks, the list goes on. The one thing that’s missing, in my humble opinion, is an upgrade to your cloak and slow-mo abilities outside of cheats.
- Killer soundtrack | Let me put it this way. Trepang2 has better pause menu music than some other games’ complete scores. The tracks range from ominous Gregorian-esque chanting and moody strings to pulse-pounding drums, synths and the grittiest electric guitars the human brain can process. In just 2 hours of playtime, I had already put the OST on my wishlist. My commendations to Brandon Mckagan, I can’t wait to listen to your next works!
- That one horror bit | I won’t spoil anything, but you’ll know it when you get to it. Horror is all about pacing and build-up. You cannot give the audience too many moments of release because the build-up is gone. This game understands that very well and doesn’t let you go back to the comfort zone of “There’s enemies around, so we’re done with the spooky.” It will plunge you back in and you’ll like it! (Or not.) There is an in-world explanation for it later in the level, and it makes sense that it doesn’t happen again, but it is easily one of the highlights of the game.
- Enemy variation | Don’t get me wrong, I believe that this game is at its strongest when you are fighting humans who move like humans and use guns like humans. However, I have seen some complaints about enemies lacking variation and there is an argument to be made there. For the most part, the enemy troops carry equipment that fits their purpose: covert spec-ops units carry silenced pistols and SMGs, whereas hulking bulldozers will be kind enough to fetch you a fully loaded minigun for you to steal from their hands. Yet outside of specific set pieces or boss fights, you’ll seldom encounter enemies who will try to melee you, stun you in some way, or present a different type of dynamic.
- Lack of strong characters | This game has a story. You play as 106 and you work with… Task Force 27! Other members include…… Oh, Raven helicopters you to the missions! And the other team that helps you is… Ok, look, the documents you find in the missions that provide background information on everything are an interesting read. But most of the characters you interact with for the majority of the game don’t even have a face for their radio icon, displaying a generic image or their masked and suited-up picture instead. If anything, I can say that I remember the main antagonist only slightly better than I remember some of the High-Value Targets of some of the levels ─optional mini-bosses who reveal themselves through radio comms and whose personalities somewhat match their loadout and tactics.
What we Disliked
- Boss fights | There’s about half a dozen bosses in Trepang2 and I enjoyed precisely one of them (though another one was alright.) Most of the time it felt like the game was only challenging me on mobility alone. So long as I could evade the boss for long enough, taking potshots here and there, they would eventually crumble and I could go back to the fun gameplay. Even outside of the highest difficulties, bosses can obliterate you in two hits, meaning that just getting stuck in a dresser after getting hit once can mean reloading the last save. All in all, only two bosses felt like challenges where all your skills are tested and the breadth of your arsenal is necessary.
How long to beat the story | 6 hours
How long to unlock all achievements | 12 hours (WAY more for higher difficulty levels)
You’ll love this game if you like these | DOOM 2016/Eternal, Wolfenstein TNC/TOB/TNO, F.E.A.R.
Trepang2 is a game that knows exactly what it wants to be. That vision was clearly upheld through steadfast, cohesive design and attention to detail, resulting in a very polished game with a strong sense of identity: A love letter to FPS games both old and new. A single level is all you need to decide if this game is for you; luckily, there is a demo which should perfectly answer that question for you. If what you are after is a faster paced and more action-packed remaster of F.E.A.R., look no further.
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