Released on November 11th, 2014
Note: The publisher Digital Leisure approached the site to cover this title. Given that this title is a ‘free-to-play’ game, there will be a discussion of the microtransaction model.
Get Off My Lawn is not the type of game that I would have ever expected to find myself playing given the stigma of ‘cell phone style’ titles. However, I decided to give the game a chance for as long as I felt that it wasn’t trying to pressure me to use real money to bypass artificial barriers such as stamina bars or other staples of f2p cashcows. The game as reviewed can be downloaded for free on all of the platforms mentioned and my experience with the game seems to indicate that the only differences between the versions are hardware acceleration and control input (for example, the loading took the longest in the Vita version of the game), but the fundamental gameplay is otherwise identical. The Steam version was chosen as the focus of the title because, among the three versions, I had the best overall experience with that particular version. That said; the differences are pretty subjective apart from Steam achievements, keyboard support and native screenshot support to make reviewing the game a bit easier.
The Game Itself
The central conflict of Get Off My Lawn finds retiree Murray Mendelson single-handedly taking on waves of countless aliens that dare to trespass onto his property. Gameplay consists of moving Murray between seven lanes, represented in the form of different colored squares on the porch, while holding off aliens for as long as possible. The starting weapon, the musket, fires straight down a lane for direct damage against one foe at a time. The other weapons, the shotgun and ray gun, can be purchased with the in-game currency of ‘orbs’ to add functionality to attack multiple lanes and pierce several foes in the same lane, respectively. Every defeated alien drops orbs with the larger foes dropping orbs of higher value. The multiplier present in the screenshots has no effect on orb drop rates. The multiplier operates under the same logic as the one present in the Guitar Hero series only pertains to overall score for the leaderboards. There are certainly patterns present in the game that one notices after extended play, but this game is certainly an example of classic arcade style. The game ends after the porch has sustained a predetermined amount of damage that allows for the aliens to abduct Murray. This damage threshold starts at three hits and increases dramatically with ‘defenses’ upgrades.
There are four enemy types that the player faces during the game: the grunt, dodgers, behemoths, and finally tank. Grunts go down in one shot while the basic dodger requires two shots from the starting musket to kill. The behemoths are the ‘big guy’ units of the game that can cause massive damage to the porch if allowed to breach the defenses. They’ll strike for two units of damage, which can be extremely painful if one is overwhelmed. Tanks are the token ‘vehicle that minions drive’ unit that explodes horizontally into grunt units once defeated. The scaling of difficulty comes from the number of enemies per wave and the amount of damage necessary to break the armor on enemies. The mitigation of difficulty comes in two forms: upgrades and Power ups. Weapon upgrades serve as additions to the power of each shot rather than an exponential multiplier. Case in point, the level 2 musket can take down a basic dodger in one shot instead of two. Powerups provide a variety of effects, such as soundwave (a wave that pushes away enemies), cane time (bullet time) and enrage. Powerups help somewhat to offset the spike albeit at the cost of being finite and, consequently, an additional drain on orbs.
The Microtransaction Model
This title contains a Free-to-Play model that banks on the expectation of its audience not being patient enough to ‘wait’ for the game to start again or to purchase in-game progress. I’ll define the ‘starting kit’ for this title as purchasing the shotgun [1000 orbs], raygun [2500 orbs], one musket upgrade [3000 orbs] and a defense upgrade [5000 orbs]. It took me about two hours of gameplay with an average yield of 500 orbs per round to purchase all of those items during the course of the session. Now, to play Devil’s advocate, let’s see how many orbs one can get for, say, $0.99.
There is also an ‘orb doubler’ for $1.99 that presumably doubles the number of orbs dropped in game. While such a business practice is one that is generally unappreciated, this title does not apply it in a manner deserving of anger. I never felt pressured to spend money for progress, but reaching a skill ceiling repeatedly can frustrate some potential players. This is definitely a ‘slow burner’ title that you play in small bursts to get orbs towards upgrades and improve the experience over time. At the same time, there are structures in place for those who are accustomed to microtransaction progress should them deem it necessary.
Get Off My Lawn is an arcade-style title that can be fun in short bursts. It isn't pushy with its f2p elements, yet it can be frustrating at points.