Glitch Busters: Stuck On You, an emoji-inspired third-person shooter published by Skybound Games and developed by Toylogic, lies on the more laid-back side of the co-op spectrum.
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You play in third-person as tiny magnet-legged fighters, and the game’s controls feel inspired by Splatoon 2, where you get surrounded by enemies and have to blast your way out. The aesthetic is supposed to represent the future of the internet, and playful urban cyber-decadence is a colourful joy to behold, with designs being done by artist Shirimoto. You’re shooting at a cavalcade of ‘bugs’ in the system. What’s delightful about the candy-coated visual design is that it both instantly – and refreshingly – sets the game apart, but it also highlights where everything is on the particularly busy and bug-filled maps. The simple, comic-book like faces also for over-the-top, hammy emotional reactions, especially from the boss we played.
Rather than paint, the central mechanic of the game that sets it apart from the pack is its use of magnets, which you can use to scoot around an area quicker, heighten and lower yourself atop a friend’s head to get a better angle to shoot an enemy, and solve environmental puzzles. As an example, there were elevators in the level we played that were controlled by magnets, and you had to attract to them and spin around the platform as quickly as possible to power the platform up. The ability to heighten/lower yourself is done through stacking each player vertically, which creates situations where everyone is in a comically tall, roving tower of characters. Some puzzles require a certain amount of characters to be stacked to proceed, which reminded me a bit of the co-op in Super Mario 3D World.
Some walls in Glitch Busters are magnetized as well, so it seems the game will have stretches where you’re walking up, sideways, and every which way. The platforming felt simple, but responsive and bouncy. The level I played had a great level of verticality, and you also have the ability to pick up and throw your compatriots in the gaping maws of a level’s abyss, which allows for some heavy trolling from sadists who just want to annoy their friends. The throwing ability was also used in the level I played in puzzles — we had to find these critters who were hiding among the muck or around corners, pick them up, and throw them into the correct. We also played a boss fight, which required one player to stack on top and find a good angle to shoot the massive bug in the mouth with a bazooka, while the bottom player-controlled movement. You’re also armed with friendly bots, who you can direct to do certain actions, or use as a tool to stack atop, if needed.
During the preview for Glitch Busters, we were also shown a sidescrolling shooter mode/mini-game where we were stacked up and shooting at and evading at oncoming obstacles, and each player has the ability to suddenly raise or lower themselves in the stack if, say an enemy blast or platform is about to hit them, subjecting their ostensible friend to damage instead of themselves. While this seemed like a conceptually interesting diversion, it felt quite a bit shallower than the main game.
Developers told NME that the game also has a highly customizable mode where you can create your own arena challenges to plough through with your friends outside of the main game. Alternatively chaotic and silly, busy yet simple, we could easily see this becoming a cult party classic as online and couch co-op are both on offer.