Merry Christmas! As the holidays roll through and the Steam winter sale does its worst, I’ve weathered the storm with only a few purchases here and there. Believe me, it could have been much, much worse. So what did I pick up?
I couldn’t resist police XCOMtastic RPS tactics game of the year Door Kickers. I was a little worried that I would find that my relationship with tactics games had gotten It’s Complicated. I’m not a huge tactics junkie but I really enjoyed Valkyria Chronicles, and had a brief but enjoyable dalliance with Frozen Synapse. Would Door Kickers get to third base with me?
I don’t know yet. I mean, I don’t just give it up to any game on the first date. I played Door Kickers. I enjoyed it. It was the first game in a while that actually made me think about it when I wasn’t playing; it was easy to daydream about what I should have done in the last misson to get through without injuries. I really wanted to boot up the game again and have another go.
The game is solid. It’s got more than enough content to keep me entertained and there’s more coming. It’s easy and fluid to control my officers (the only tricky part being all the actions available around doors and the triggered way of using breaching charges), it’s super satisfying to breach a room and clear all hostiles cleanly without any injuries, and it’s a great touch to have my troopers express through tiny vox snippets when they’re engaging or out of commands or injured.
Both layers – the down and dirty tactics of each mission and the high-level profession of the police force – work and work well. Unlike XCOM, there’s no real fiction that hinders the progression. It’s instantaneous and feels much more game-based, which makes the gains made in the ground game feel immediately meaningful. There’s a slight separation of benefits for the entire force versus those for a single asset, and the loss of those benefits when an officer dies is felt but not frustrating.
And to be clear, those little officers running and gunning are assets. They are replaceable. They don’t carry all that much weight with them. You can name them and change their portrait, but what really matters game-wise – their stats and skills and load out – aren’t actually tied all that much to their individual selves. I lost almost my entire squad (all but one lonely survivor who surely needed counseling afterwards) and aside from losing an officer with a ridiculous nickname, it didn’t affect me all that much.
I’m not the kind of person that plays on Ironman and enables permadeath by choice. Sure, when characters die, I usually play with the consequences – my play through of Mass Effect 3 attests to the hasty choices I made in 2. What I really like about Door Kickers is the ability to restart so easily. Not only does my squad start out with the same setup and load outs, they even will replay all of their commands until I change them. It makes iterating and learning and fixing the massive mistakes I made feel good.
I’m writing this from San Francisco International Airport, about to board a flight to Shanghai. I won’t be playing Door Kickers for at least a week, but I know that when I get back, I’ll be indulging in another night with the game. I need to bust those drug dealers, and I need to do it before they destroy all the evidence and kill 8 cops. I need to unlock those three other classes of officers to fill out my roster. I need to kick some doors.
As I’ll be in China for the next week, I probably won’t be writing something up next week. If I do, it’ll be some old DS game that I spent 20 hours with flying over the Pacific. Happy holidays!