We can all think of a film which is so outlandish that it’s impossible to think the people behind it weren’t on some sort of foreign substance when they were putting it all together. State of Anarchy: Master of Mayhem is the video game equivalent of films like those.
This hand-drawn twin-stick shooter feels like an acid-based take on roguelikes with a little bit of the feeling of the handheld Grand Theft Auto games, with the main character shooting enemies on an overworld map before taking on a boss at a set location, and being able to make use of vehicles to run down enemies in the meantime.
The plot takes you from Earth into space, shooting land-based enemies and vehicles before gunning down aliens and spaceships. But the gameplay always feels the same, having you run slowly along the route to your destination while taking out gun towers and trying not to get hit by bullet-hell type streams of attacks coming from your enemies. There’s no major swerves as far as what you have to do, but the game certainly gets more challenging towards the end, with more savvy enemies to contend with and more hard work needed in order to pull off the level-completing objective.
Finishing levels rewards the player with upgrades and new weapons, and these weapons can’t be changed until you’ve beaten the boss of the next level to come. Automatic weapons are a big help, but the reloading breaks can quickly undo you, with the twin-stick aiming causing quite a bit of challenge. Using the right stick to aim automatically fires your weapon, something which would be better-suited exclusively mapped to another button (R gets the job done too, but it should be the only button to use). Fortunately, you can use the environment to your advantage, bouncing bullets off walls to pick off enemies without putting yourself at too much risk of taking damage yourself.
State of Anarchy almost plays like a Sky Force or some other scrolling space shooter set out on foot. Moving and manoeuvring in and out of oncoming gunfire is what you need to do in those bullet hell games, and there’s no complex moves that you need to master here – it’s simply a case of having the wherewithal to move out of the way. That being said, the gameplay here is nothing to really be writing home about – we have seen it before.
But where State of Anarchy does do well is in its visual design and its sound. For sure, both of these feel basic, but they feel different – it’s like it’s been totally done in the form of doodles by a schoolkid. The sound, meanwhile, matches this basic feel, but there’s a comedic nature to it which forms a level of coherence. That’s not to say this is a massively funny game, however – rather than laughing, you’ll spend your time when playing this thinking ‘what the hell’, as all that would make sense appears to have been tossed out the window.
Heavily founded in its twin-stick shooting, State of Anarchy is only going to be for a certain market of gamers. You probably have to know what to expect from the genre before jumping in here, as those who don’t will likely just find the experience weird. It’s a decent amount of fun though – just not universally for every kind of player.
State of Anarchy: Master of Mayhem £7.19
State of Anarchy‘s visuals and sound are its highlights, though the gameplay doesn’t set the world on fire. It’s one for the genre enthusiasts.