Garbageman Rick makes a pretty obvious mistake when he finds a briefcase full of cash and decides to keep it. It turns out that cases full of money tend to belong to people. In this case, the bucks belonged to some bad guys who promptly murder Rick’s brother for what he did. That means it’s time for revenge – though, really, it should mean it’s time for some introspection regarding taking things that aren’t yours – so Rick decides to clean up the trash in Riskers, an open world/top-down shooter hybrid.
In an example of the innovation we’ve come to know and love from the indie games scene, Riskers is Grand Theft Auto (the pre-GTA3 versions) meets Hotline Miami. These are two great tastes and one assumes they’d taste great together; it’s not surprising that we’re finally seeing these gameplay styles married to one another. Rick explores an open city with secrets and side quests to find – that’s the GTA bit – and sometimes infiltrates areas to complete missions – that’s the Hotline Miami bit. Both parts of Riskers play a lot like their inspirations, right down to the frustrating one-hit deaths that characterize Hotline Miami.
It’s not a terrible combination, all told! Appreciating Riskets entails keeping in mind that this is a $10 release that’s attempting to capitalize on the gameplay styles of two games that have helped shape the industry as we know it today. It’s not without its warts, in other words; as mentioned, the worst bits of Hotline Miami rise to the top in Riskers as you eat a stray bullet and are forced to replay significant chunks of stages that you’ve been through before, and that’s saying nothing about the sometimes-infuriating racing. Still, for what it is, Riskers generally works, even if’s about as polished as you’d expect from a $10 game, and I found I tended to prefer this game to the unnecessarily difficult Hotline Miami 2.
You shouldn’t be surprised to hear that Riskers’ presentation also owes a lot to the games that inspired it; in particular the visual design owes a lot to the original Grand Theft Auto, while the game as a whole tends to be less gruesome than Hotline Miami. That’s not necessarily a strike against Riskers, though, and everything is generally clear and clean enough to see what’s going on – that’s important in a game that doesn’t forgive mistakes. Sound-wise, special mention goes to the excellent soundtrack, which is pretty solid electronica that’s well-suited to this sort of dark urban action.
The best not-quite-Hotline-Miami-but-close-enough experience for your indie game money right now is…well, that would be spaceship hijacking simulator Heat Signature, which is a prime candidate for one of 2017’s Games of the Year. If you’ve gotten through that and still hunger for more top-down action, though, you could do worse than Riskers. Patience is, naturally, required, but those players willing to give the game a chance should find it’s well worth the $10.