I wasn’t sure what to think when I first saw Code Avarice and Digerati Distribution’s Paranautical Activity, as it looked like Minecraft mixed with a first person shooter (or FPS). Instead I was treated to a roguelike FPS with hints of the indie classic The Binding of Isaac, that’s a pretty fun time for those who enjoy any of those things or cool indie titles in general.
Most people who follow gaming news will recognize this title for the string of controversy that followed after an employee of Code Avarice said some not-so-nice things about Steam’s Gabe Newell. But I’m not here to get into all of that (that’s what search engines are for) and will jump right into the review. There’s not much in the way of a story, as you select one of two characters who each have unique styles of gameplay (one is fast and does little damage, one is slow and does heavy damage, etc), with two more characters you obtain through unlocking them via in-game achievements, and blast your way past hordes of enemies. The controls are pretty simple and should come naturally to anyone who is familiar with first person shooters, such as the buttons for jumping, shooting, switching to a secondary weapon and throwing bombs.
These skills will come in handy as you’re immediately thrown into the middle of the action as you clear out a room full of bizarre enemies. Once you’re done, you’ll head to the next room with another wave of enemies that’s usually followed by a mid-boss or boss that drops some sweet loot along with increasing your stats to make mowing down baddies a little easier.
You can also use the wealth you accumulate to purchase items and weapons that will aid you in your quest. I found myself doing this quite often, as the difficulty has a tendency to spike here and there. Throw in the randomly generated rooms and enemies, and it’s all too easy to let things become a nightmare. The retro pixel graphics keep things lively though, and the sounds do just enough to keep you in the game, as long as in you play in spurts.
While the difficulty got to me, those who enjoy challenging games, roguelikes, FPS titles and such, you’ll most likely find something to enjoy in Paranautical Activity. A fun, retro look combined with difficult gameplay can be quite the sadistic treat for players willing to take a dive into the paranautical depths.