We’ve seen lots of different top-down shooters this generation, some good, some bad. The common mechanic/genre which a lot of developers love to mix with their top-down shmups is the bullet-hell genre – where you’ll spend most of your time ducking in and out of the bullets than actually concentrating on where you’re going or what you’re shooting at! State of Anarchy: Master of Mayhem dials it back a little and delivers an original looking game that isn’t as intense as a lot of games out there, but also delivers a nice challenge that will last you a good few hours in order to platinum.
Coming from developer Lapovich and publisher Sometimes You, State of Anarchy: Master of Mayhem is a fun game I keep finding myself returning too – let’s find out why…
As with a lot of these smaller indie titles, there isn’t much of a story that holds the game together. Instead, we’re given a few various playstyles and locations which we’ll encounter throughout the 48 missions. You can jump back and forth between any mission you’ve completed via the menu screen, so clean up in regards to obtaining your platinum is nice and easy yet unlike some ‘Ratalaika Games’ games, you actually have to complete the final mission of State of Anarchy before you’re awarded this trophy.
One issue I have with State of Anarchy is its controls. It operates like a standard twin-stick shooter, so you have your Left Stick to move, Right Stick to aim and fire, L1 is your special weapon and R1 is your normal weapon. Everything works fine, apart from the Right Stick for the aim + fire motion. If you push the Right Stick directly up, down or left, you’ll stop firing. For some reason, there appears to be a dead zone that is stopping you from shooting if you’re aiming in these three specific spots. Yet, if you hold R1 to shoot and then aim with the Right Stick, it works fine.
It’s not a major complaint as it does have the simple workaround of holding R1 as you aim, but with it being a twin-stick shooter, I’m used to just pushing the stick and the autofire working 100% in games like these.
So, what are the three mission ‘segments’ you’ll be playing?:
This is the most common mode from what I gather. You’re placed in a top-down view of a city that is in chaos as rioters run amok in the streets, cars purposely swerve into you, alien spaceships appear and have one task – to blast you to pieces, and there are even heavily armoured guys who plant turrets to slaughter you. Literally, nobody in this city wants you to see tomorrow! Your aim is to get to three banks, one after another, whilst fending off the onslaught in the streets by running people over or blasting them with your primary and secondary weapons. Once at the bank, it’s time to make a withdrawal… of everyone’s soul! You need to go postal and literally slaughter everyone in the bank and take out the ‘king of the castle’ who has created a mini-fort in the centre of the building.
Don’t worry though, all of these people you’re mercilessly butchering are all bad guys – so no harm!
Once you’ve taken out this well-fortified guy, you’re given a new weapon – either primary or secondary – this could be better or worse than the one you currently have, so be careful with what you pick up. Then, onto the next one until all three have been completed – then it’s time to move onto one of the next two modes, which alternate after each Bank Raiding segment…
UFO Chase and boss battle:
As the name suggests, you’re back on the streets as you chase down a giant UFO which will crush any building it comes into contact with, all whilst taking out or avoiding the constant onslaught of all the same enemies from the previous mode. This is best done by hopping into one of the green cars and driving after the UFO using standard car controls (L2 and R2 for reverse/forwards) and shooting by using the Right Stick.
Once the ship has been destroyed, which takes a while if your weapon is a bit crap, then you enter a boss battle against the evil alien who was supposedly flying the ship. These are generally okay in terms of difficulty, but just like the UFO chase, if you’ve picked up a terrible weapon then expect to replay this mission a few times before you exterminate them. This mode is also more akin to the Bullet-hell games I referred to before as you’re in a small enclosure that is just a little bigger than the screen, as you dodge the barrage of bullets the creature shoots at you as well as various rocks which spurt out their own stream of bullets.
Once you’re victorious in this section, you’re sent back to the city level to do three more Bank Raiding missions.
The Alien Planet and escape:
If you’ve not been tasked with taking down the alien ship and killing its driver, you’ll instead be abducted and taken to the alien’s planet where you’ll have to kill or be killed. Just like the Bank Raiding mode, you’ll be consistently attacked from all directions by anything that moves only this time it’s from a selection of other-worldly creatures rather than human rioters. It’s seriously not your day today! Your main objective here is to seek out and destroy three buildings that I presume are powering some sort of forcefield holding you on this planet? I say supposedly because once you destroy all three you’re taken to…
The escape flight! This is one of the easiest segments in my opinion. You’re in a spaceship as you float around in space and shoot the oncoming alien ships. Here you just have to destroy a certain number of aliens in order to land back on Earth and proceed with another Bank Raiding segment.
Visually, I really like the look of State of Anarchy. It has a hand-drawn effect to the entire game like the developer just drew everything in biro on a piece of paper and scanned it in. Aesthetically, it reminds me a lot of Drawn to Death, the game which came out last year, which unfortunately is being shut down in March next year. It’s a very clean and clear game, as you can see from the images, which plays on being very simple in order to create lots of chaos on the screen with no knockback to performance.
Audio-wise, this is another area I wasn’t too impressed with. Don’t get me wrong, the music kinda fits and makes you get all pumped up to go around slaughtering everyone, but it’s a short loop. I would say the track itself is around 20-30 seconds long in most instances before it loops back around on itself. The voices and screams are a nice touch though, even if I did hear a few ‘Doom’ creature noises in there when I took down the aliens.
State of Anarchy: Master of Mayhem is a nice, simple game in regards to its premise – Bank Raid, Alien Planet, Escape, Bank Raid, Takedown an alien ship, Kill the alien, Bank Raid… rinse and repeat. But, thanks to the game giving you a new primary and secondary weapon every few missions, it keeps the difficulty up there and the addictiveness high as you can jump straight back in if you fail and continue from the mission you were on within seconds. Also, as you level up via XP, you’ll unlock new boosts and abilities which makes the game borderline an RPG/Roguelike as you play until you die, add benefits and then try again.
I’ve had the game for a while and I keep jumping back into it when I have a few minutes spare to try and take on the next mission or segment, yet if you were to play it constantly until you got the platinum then I would guess it’ll take you about six hours or so based on the amount of content there is. It’s a funny, comical, light-hearted take on the top-down shmup genre with a hint of bullet-hell and progression thrown in. It may be a bit too simple for hard-core fans of the genre but casual gamers and those who want a game they don’t have to think about too much will enjoy playing through it.
State of Anarchy: Master of Mayhem is an aesthetically pleasing top-down shooter with a cartoony look to it. It’s all about knocking down rioters, blasting aliens, bringing down giant spaceships, and destroying buildings, yet it’s all done in a narrative-less game that looks like it’s been drawn on a piece of paper. Although the game doesn’t vary too much in terms of its gameplay, as it really only has three different segments of play-styles, it does mix things up with new weapons and abilities being given to you on almost every level.
If you’re a trophy hunter, State of Anarchy: Master of Mayhem is a nice easy one for you – if you’re a hardcore shmup/twin-stick fan, you may find it a little easy/lacklustre – if you’re a casual gamer looking for a fun game to fill your time in small batches then you’ll also most likely enjoy this game as much as I did.
State of Anarchy: Master of Mayhem£7.39
- Lots of weapons to pick up and abilities to unlock/upgrade
- 48 missions which are played over three core game modes
- Looks really cool with it's hand-drawn style aesthetics
- Very addictive
- Easy enough platinum, just takes at least 6+ hours
- Pushing directly up, down, or left hits a 'dead zone' and stops you from firing unless holding down R1
- Even though you get new weapons to make the later lavels a bit more tricky, you are repeting the same missions structure over and over again
- The music is cool but it appears to be short loops