‘Trepang2’ is the gold standard for spiritual successors

Layers of F.E.A.R

Hit Reload is a weekly column on everything first-person shooter. This week, Jake unloads his thoughts on the unfortunately named blaster Trepang2, which channels the spirit of Black and F.E.A.R to great effect.

In Trepang2 you play as an amnesiac soldier that has been infused with supernatural abilities. In the Steam Next Fest demo, that’s about all you’re given before you are turned loose into the world to seek vengeance, teaming up with a mysterious group to mete out punishment.

Is vengeance even possible when you have no memory of your previous life? Trepang2 doesn’t care, it’s too busy handing you an assault rifle to philosophise. You’ll likely be too busy too, as smart enemies outnumber and overwhelm you as you try to make do with the gun in your hand and your two abilities: a toggleable slow-motion mode and a cloak that drops you into a blue-hued invisibility, offering just enough time to reposition during a firefight or stalk up to an enemy and get him in a headlock to use as a human shield.

It’s heaps of fun, even if the demo only gives you access to a short but sweet prologue filled with corridors and men to wallpaper those corridors with, culminating in a set piece best described as “elevators full of men in tactical gear charge at you until everyone dies.” Then there’s a few arena-based wave defence modes, which don’t have the same charm as the prologue but have still kept me amused for a few hours due to the tense nature of the brutal combat.

Trepang2. Credit: Trepang Studios.
Trepang2. Credit: Trepang Studios.

To gamers of a certain age, a mysterious commando working with a shadowy group while also having the ability to move in slow motion says one thing: F.E.A.R. In an age of constant remakes, remasters and re-imaginings, Monolith’s stellar FPS has never been revisited, but Trepang2 has come along to offer its own interpretation of slow-motion first person blasting.

There’s something about the way Trepang2 has taken the core elements and remixed them – the goons attacking you from all sides are in newer tactical gear sure, but this is a pulpy FPS at a time when the genre has largely died out – in no small part due to the fact that Activision took Raven Software of Wolfenstein, Singularity and Soldier of Fortune 2 fame and locked them in a room to work on Call of Duty games. This is a game where secret experiments have given you powers and you’re more than happy to jab yourself in the arm with a serum that will let you dual wield shotguns. It’s B-movie jank, but who’s complaining?

F.E.A.R was famous for three things – four if you count the terrifying jump scare where monstrous little girl Alma shits you up at the top of a ladder – and that’s the nailgun, the smart AI and the game’s slow-motion abilities. All of this took place in the game’s least memorable feature: dreary light brown corridors just waiting for you to paint the walls with viscera. The sequels did away with the dingy corridors and clean styling and bizarrely lost their identity a little bit. A few hours with Trepang2 and it’s clear that it’s nailed the slow motion and the corridors, but there’s not enough in the Summer Games Fest demo to see if it’s ticking all of the boxes just yet.

Trepang2. Credit: Trepang Studios.
Trepang2. Credit: Trepang Studios.

I don’t think it matters, either way. As a fan of F.E.A.R, obviously I want to see nail guns and proper reverence to a game I’ve loved for years. But here’s the thing – F.E.A.R came out in 2005. That’s coming up on 20 years ago. While in my head I have a list of things I want Trepang2 to adhere to, actually I’m in the wrong here – it’s time for a new audience to find things they love. This is the best of both worlds, it’s clear to see elements of F.E.A.R spattered about the place but this is a game that seems to take its inspiration from a deep love for F.E.A.R. at Trepang Studios.

Now, we get to see Trepang Studios add its own twist. There’s already the ability to mod weapons and even shoot out lights to engage in some light stealth, in addition to grabbing enemies to use as human shields before pulling the pins from their grenades and launching them like an improvised explosive device.

From the demo,Trepang2 appears to be a good game for those looking for that F.E.A.R fix. But it’s also shaping up to be a solid game on its own merits, and should scratch that itch for a no-nonsense FPS with lashings of gore.

I’d still like a nail gun, mind.

You can currently download a free demo for Trepang2 on Steam

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