By Chris Picone, 08 November 2023
I was complaining recently that while indie developers are doing amazing work across a range of genres, I've only seen a few decent FPS games published in the last few years. Maybe I'm too fussy - or maybe I've been looking in the wrong places. Beyond Sunset is awesome, absolutely ticks all my boxes. It's still a little buggy at the moment (that's okay - it literally just released into Early Access) but it's already shaping up to be one of my all-time favourite FPS experiences.
Beyond Sunset is a retrofuturistic (80s-style!) cyberpunk shooter where you play as a street samurai. And while I suspect Metacorp's decision to go with a retro/pixel art style aesthetic was probably a logistical decision, for me it was absolutely the best decision they could have made. I grew up with 80s/90s cyberpunk movies like Johnny Mnemonic, Blade Runner, Akira, and of course games like Deus Ex, and Beyond Sunset's neon vibes and synthwave beats really hit the mark for me. The backgrounds and levels are nicely detailed with signs and graffiti and just the right amount of polish. I love it.
And if the aesthetics are amazing, so is the gameplay. This is no limp along shooter or one where you have to hold sprint for the entire game just to feel like you're getting anywhere, it's got a nice fast pace even between battles. Movement plays a huge part of this game; you're a street samurai, full of battle enhancements, so for once all the double jumping, dashing, and sliding all make sense. The levels are built for it too - while you're free to roam and explore the open world, the battles themselves are primarily arena-based, and they're usually fairly large and three-dimensional. You'll find yourself fighting in a bar, in a mall, in the streets, across rooftops. You're constantly outnumbered and your enemies are a mix of ranged and melee so you really have to use cover where you can and your abilities to give you the edge. You start with a samurai sword, a decent enough weapon in its own right, but also one that lets you deflect enemy bullets and even heal when you use your special attack. But it's not enough, and you will find yourself cycling through weapons constantly - charged shots from your pistol remove enemy armour, the assault rifle's great for picking off enemies further away, and the shotgun's great for blasting anyone that manages to sneak up on you. As you beat enemies you pick up money which you can use to upgrade your health and abilities. It's worth mentioning the non-combat stuff. You can talk to people as you walk around, and sometimes other interactions that might make your battles easier (like setting off a fire alarm to remove innocent bystanders), and there are so so many secrets to be found, it definitely pays to explore. I haven't quite managed to finish the first episode yet but I gather the second episode has an even more intense focus on the RPG aspects, which I'm pretty excited about.
Although I've bumped into a few game-crashing bugs already, the game has only just released into EA and the devs have been very receptive in both taking on feedback and in pumping out updates and fixes so I have no fear the end product will be very polished. In the meantime, Beyond Sunset really is shaping up to be one of my all-time favourite shooters.