Of all the comic book heroes that have stepped into gaming, Superman has what is most likely the worst track record. Nearly any game based around playing the caped hero has been noted for its low quality, the most infamous being Superman 64 which is often considered one of the worst games ever made. While the drought of good Superman games doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon, a one man independent title is trying its best to take over. Megaton Rainfall sees you playing as an invincible superhero trying to save Earth. Does it manage to succeed, or does the Curse of Steel continue?
You'll play as the Offspring, a weird energy-being that is the child of an omnipresent cube that has a strange obsession with Humans. The cube orders you to protect the Humans from an alien race simply known as the Invaders while reclaiming stolen artifacts of power known as the Xenospheres. This interesting premise ultimately goes nowhere. Most of the plot consists of the cube promising he's totally going to reveal the purpose of all this once you've defeated the Invaders, then it all ends with some strange Gainax ending that I can't even begin to comprehend. I liked the set up, but that's about all Megaton Rainfall got right when it comes to story.
Of all the things that I could compare Megaton Rainfall with, it seems a bit strange to start with a first person shooter, but it's a decent enough starting point. You'll fly around in first person, gaining new super powers that you'll need to stop the alien invaders. At the start of the game, all you can do is shoot energy blasts from your hand, but you'll gain new abilities as you complete levels. By the end of the game, I could use a devastating charge shot, telekinesis, freeze time, ram enemies with a dash attack, and more. It's a good chunk of skills, and I actually found them mostly easy to use. Only telekinesis gave me some trouble as I tried to figure out how to successfully throw objects at enemies, but after a bit of messing around with the power I figured it out.
The story takes place over nine missions that will take somewhere between three to five hours to finish. Each mission begins with the Invaders attacking a city and you coming to help. The Invaders will send down enemies to try and attack the city in waves, with new ones There's some genuinely fantastic enemy variety here. From worms that burrow into the ground, to ships that lift up skyscrapers so they can drop them, to bomb dropping invaders that need to have their own weapons thrown back at them, and even enemies that just have a giant ball on a chain following them around like a flail. You can take enemies down by just shooting them until they die, but each enemy has a gem on them that serves as a weak spot that allows you to take them down in one or two hits. The goal of the game is going to be hitting those gems to take down enemies as quickly as possible before they can cause mass destruction.
Funny enough, there is one element that the developers did pull from an actual Superman game. As I mentioned before, you are totally invincible. Much like Superman Returns, the health bar is instead that of the city you're defending. Your goal is to prevent the enemies from damaging the city itself, and also to avoid missing said enemies and blowing up buildings. Every time a building is destroyed, or an enemy is left to wander the streets, people die and the city's health bar lowers. While the idea is great, the game is a little too inconsistent about what actually lowers the health bar or not. I've seen enemies tunnel their way through and knock down buildings with no penalty to my life, but when I bump a car in traffic, 20 people die.
In another strange yet interesting design decision, you can explore the entire universe. I'm not being hyperbolic here either, if you don't feel like starting the next level then you can just turn around and blast off into space. From here you can just wander the stars, finding random planets that you can then zoom into and land on No Man's Sky-style. If you wander the stars you can find seven more hidden Xenospheres along with some other secrets. At one point I found an obelisk that, when I approached it, got upset with me because it was busy counting atoms and now I've interrupted its counting. It's a cool to see an entire universe here, though I can't imagine finding any of its secrets is going to be particularly easy considering how much room there is to explore. There also isn't really that much to see since outside of that one obelisk I never found anything else worth exploring for.
While there's a whole universe to explore, Megaton Rainfall lacks content. Outside of the nine story missions there is little else to do. You get a score attack mode after you finish the game, if you want to replay levels and try to improve your score. You can also replay the game on a harder difficulty if that's more your style. Otherwise, the campaign is all that's here.
I was honestly impressed with how Megaton Rainfall looked. The destruction effects can be quite awesome at times, with entire cities crumbling and falling apart. Sometimes I just wanted to let the Invaders win to watch how the destruction plays out. I was also impressed with the sense of scale, flying around the universe before getting back to Earth and flying all the way in to land in New York without ever seeing a loading screen. It's really neat to see a one man indie title is able to do what AAA studios have been trying. While the graphics were impressive, the soundtrack got annoying after a while. Feeling less like a soundtrack and more like one ten minute song that is just cut up for different situations, you'll be hearing the same electronic beats for every fight and some guy singing "is anybody out there?" at the end of every level.
If you're looking for another chance to use PlayStation VR, then there's some good news there as Megaton Rainfall allows you to play the game in VR. I actually didn't notice any real change in graphical fidelity while playing in VR, which was nice. Flying around the universe and fighting aliens in VR did add an extra layer of immersion from the main game. On the other hand, those vulnerable to VR sickness may want to take a step back from Megaton Rainfall as the game features some very fast movements and turning. It's the first game that has actually made me feel queasy in quite some time, but there are some comfort options to try and help with that.
While it's still a shame that we haven't gotten an actual Superman game worth playing, we've got Megaton Rainfall. This first person shooter is still rough around the edges, with some control issues and a dull story. However, this is the closest I've ever come to feeling like an actual super powered superhero in some time, and if you can play it in VR that just adds some icing to the cake.
Megaton Rainfall was reviewed on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR using a copy provided by the developer. The game will be available on PC on November 17th, 2017 and on other consoles in 2018.
Megaton Rainfall is the first video game that genuinely made me feel like Superman. It just has a few rough edges to work out.
- Fun Superpowers
- Good Enemy Variety
- Surprising Explorable Universe
- Great Graphics
- Good Use of VR
- Nonsensical Story
- Some Control Issues
- City Damage Isn't Consistant
- Little Content Besides Campaign