What can I say about Sturmfront – The Mutant War? It’s a twin-stick shooter set in 1984. It’s about the aftermath of a man-made plague that created wretched mutants. It’s styled like any number of arcade-style shooters like Ikari Warriors, Heavy Barrel, or the top-down bits from the Contra games. Originally released on PC back in 2017, it’s now available on Switch, meaning you can take the action just about anywhere. The only real question is whether you’ll want to.
Humanity’s last hope is a bunch of synthetic humans made by Dr. Hartmuth Griesgram, an eccentric scientist. There’s a “maternal robot” with dialogue so uncomfortable that I nearly stopped playing. You play as badass cyborg Siegfried von Hammerstein, your only job is to shoot enemies with a variety of weapons (flamethrower, plasma gun, etc.) to smash your way through the apocalyptic world and collect hidden souls (which give you pieces to the plot).
I wish there was more to say here, but it really is that simple: shoot baddies, don’t die. As you get further along, enemies become stronger and more resilient. However, it’s still very much a button-mashing experience, so if you just continuously blast, you’ll move forward. None of this is surprising, given the genre, but there’s just not enough variety to keep things interesting throughout all the cartoon carnage.
The plot is decent. It isn’t really anything out of the ordinary, but it’s definitely got that gritty 80s action film feel. This is reflected in the graphics, as well. They’re pixelated, arcade-style, and a bit rough around the edges. The soundtrack is full of heavy metal music. The aesthetic of the game has a lot going for it; there’s just not anything else that makes it stand out.
Sturmfront isn’t a must-play. It offers a decent time if you’re really into arcade-style, twin-stick shooters, but even then it gets repetitive and boring quickly. There’s not much here that makes it unique plot or gameplay wise, even though the colorful graphics and music make for a pretty rad apocalyptic aesthetic. If the last Contra game left you feeling sad then maybe you’ll find something here to enjoy, but you’d have to be pretty hard up by that point. I suggest overlooking this one; you won’t be missing much.