Megaton Rainfall Review — Up, Up, and Away
The VR superhero game we've all been waiting for has finally arrived, and it provides a solid foundation that future superhero titles should follow.
Review copy provided by the publisher
Since 1979, the gaming industry has made fourteen attempts at creating a Superman video game worthy of your time and wallet. While many of these games were a valiant effort (except Superman 64) fans of the Man of Steel never received an actual Superman game per se; Megaton Rainfall is the superhero game no one wanted. But, I am thankful that it exists, and it is the closest thing to a traditional Superman game in recent years.
You play as a superpowered organism only referred to as “Offspring” who has been brought to life by a mysterious cube and is tasked with stopping an alien invasion from destroying Earth. Initially, you start in space, which serves more like a simple tutorial on how to move your character and change the altitude.
After finishing the tutorial, the cube provides you with a marker, which pinpoints the location of enduring an alien invasion. In the beginning, you start off with one superpower — which is equivalent to a peashooter (and fires extremely slow) — but after defeating enemies, you can take their harvested energy back to the cube, who will give you new capabilities.
Your weapons, for the most part, are slightly underpowered. The primary tool of attack is an energy blast. However, you can obtain other powers over the course of Megaton Rainfall. The ability to stop time, a focused heat ray, telekinesis, a super dash, and the ability to drill underground, are all great tools to use in the game. However, after using them, it takes some time for each ability to recharge, which can prove to be inconvenient at times. I wouldn’t say that it makes the game harder in that sense, but it requires a lot of planning when deciding which powers to use.
Megaton Rainfall‘s narrative its rather mundane; you go to a highlighted location on the map and defeat the enemies. I understand that the cube put brought you into this world to stop alien invasions on earth, but it indeed would have been refreshing to do other tasks aside from shooting extraterrestrials.
Visually, Megaton Rainfall is unevenly balanced. While the world itself is massive, offering a wide range of environments and bodies of water separating the aliens’ primary targets the cities all looked the same; its more of quantity over quality in that regard, but the textures on the landscapes and buildings are unacceptable for a late 2017 indie title.
Aside from the disappointing environmental surfaces, flying around the world felt amazingly soothing, I legitimately at times felt like I was a superhero roaming the universe, especially in VR, where the sheer sense of speed makes you forget that you aren’t an actual superhero. While it was not required for me to play with the PlayStation VR, I highly encourage putting on the headset when playing Megaton Rainfall to provide a more immersive experience.
Regarding gameplay, it plays like an arcade-style shooter, but I couldn’t help but feel that the controls were extremely slippery and the character moves rather stiffly. Not to mention the character is packing a lot of momentum when flying, regardless of speed; often when I stopped when trying to make a more precise shot, it felt like my character was slipping on invisible ice.
One of the more innovative things that Megaton Rainfall offers is how the life bar is implemented. Unlike the traditional health bar that represents how much damage you take, it serves as the health of the city you’re defending. With great power comes great responsibility, and the amount of damage you cause will decrease your health bar. In other words, accurate shooting is essential, do not expect to go into this game thinking you can just blast around your powers like there’s no tomorrow because there will be repercussions for your reckless playing.
Whenever damage is caused, the bottom left of the screen will display how many casualties were taken during the mission which can be nerve inducing, speficially when you consider that after completing the task you are graded on your performance.
It doesn’t help the fact that the alien crafts can cause massive damage, depleting your city’s health bar substantially. Any damage that you caused results in a storm of rubble and shrapnel, accompanied by the sounds of terrified civilians. All of whom, by the way, remain unseen through out the game. To me, that breaks immersion incredibly; the screams are realistic but without seeing actual humans running in fear it just feels cheap.
The difficulty curve in Megaton Rainfall can go from laughably easy, to frustratingly hard in the blink of an eye; most notably in missions when specific alien craft leaves nuclear bombs across the perimeter and you are required to toss into the ocean or flown into the upper atmosphere before they detonate.
While missions such as those can be annoying and tedious, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel proud of myself after completing those tasks; some lives you saved by disposing of those bombs was rewarding. The problem with many superhero-themed video games is that feeling like you made a difference and some of the best superhero games to date have failed to deliver that sense of rewarding the player for doing these types of missions.
The enemies in Megaton Rainfall have their glaring weaknesses, which you can target to defeat them in less time. However, getting into the right position to toss energy or fire a heat ray requires patience, considering the controls are slippery which adds unneeded difficulty to the game.
Fortunately, a few of enemies have patterns you can catch, but another portion of them are unpredictable. For them, it becomes a game of luck rather than skill which can cause unnecessary restarts on missions because of this. The more frantic the fight is, the more disoriented you feel, especially when you play Megaton Rainfall in VR, combined with the loose aim controls and movement an auto-aim feature in a future update would be nice to help level the playing field.
Megaton Rainfall is not a terrible game; for an indie superhero title, it does a lot of things great, but the problem is that the few flaws that it offers make one overlook all that it does great. Nonetheless, Megaton Rainfall succeeds in providing the best first-person superhero gaming experience that AAA studios have failed to deliver so far.