If you care enough about video games to read reviews, you’re probably more than familiar with split-screen deathmaches in early console FPS games. GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64 pioneered the concept and games like TimeSplitters on the PS2 showed up later to refine it. One of the quickest things you’d learn as you played is that you could use some sneaky tactics to get a leg up on your foes…and Screencheat is a modern FPS that’s all about employing those very tactics to your advantage.
The basic concept here is simple enough: you’re playing a first-person shooter in split-screen multiplayer. This is the case regardless of if you’re actually playing in the same room or online. You’re also completely invisible, as is everyone else. Thus, the only way to find your foes and take them out is to do exactly what the title says and “Screencheat” by looking at other players’ screens, allowing you to see what they see and work out where they are. You probably did exactly the same thing in GoldenEye back in the day and your friends probably hated you for it.
This immediately takes standard FPS gameplay and turns it on its head. Want to hide from your opponents? Better stare at a wall as you move in order to stymie their Screencheating efforts. Looking for somebody to shoot? Looking at their screen is the most obvious option, but you could also keep an eye out for the firing trails from their weapons. You’ll rapidly come up with ways to exploit Screencheat’s bizarre mechanics, turning each match into a game of invisible cat-and-mouse. All of the game’s weapons kill in a single shot, so combat can become pretty tense.
You’ve got a few options for how the hunting will work out, ranging from your typical deathmatch to King of the Hill to a mode that gives players targets to kill with specific weapons. There’s plenty of variety here, though it seems a little unnecessary given how different Screencheat feels from the average FPS. Still, if you can get some friends together who enjoy this sort of thing you’ll probably be Screencheating for a while.
Screencheat’s presentation isn’t anything out of the ordinary once you get past the fact that all the players are invisible. The guns are generally wacky, ranging from a hobby horse to a teddy bear, and the stages support Screencheating even if they aren’t especially inspiring on their own. This is clearly a game that’s trying to survive on its mechanics rather than its aesthetics, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Co-op can improve any game; bad games can become decent, if not hilarious, and good games like Screencheat become great. If you’ve got a few friends you can get together for a few matches then Screencheat’s going to be a good time. This is the kind of game that thrives on communication, whether that’s in person or over a solid VOIP connection. Make that happen and Screencheat becomes an easy recommendation.