After each battle, combatants receive a number of Awesome Points based on their performance. These points are used to purchase a slew of new weapon and cosmetic unlocks, as well as entire new characters. While all players begin with an assault rife and katana, they can soon buy shotguns, pistols, SMGs, RPGs, and throwing knives. New armor pieces across head, body, and legs allow the player to mix and match to create a unique look. While frequently silly, mismatched and outlandish characters really just add to the fun.
The Showdown Effect also features an in-game store to purchase new skins. A pop-up promises they will never sell anything game breaking, and, to their credit, they don't. The inventory is pretty neat to boot. If you want your katana to look like a light saber – er, Fusion Blade, the option is there. Items also earn the microtransaction label, coming in between one and two dollars or five for a bundle pack.
A Good Day to... Shine?
The audio-visual aspects of the game were consistently impressive. Everything from the menus to the gameplay is beautifully stylized. Menus all feature a film scan effect giving the impression of a closed-circuit television. When gameplay begins, that effect disappears as if the camera has transcended the screen. While the models and environments won't win any awards, everything feels hand-crafted and well placed like the set of a TV game show. Which, interestingly, is exactly how the action is framed. When matches end, round leaders (or their dismembered bodies) are freeze-framed before the credits roll.
Sound design is also fantastic. Menus ring with overdriven guitars and cymbal crashes. Music is, in many ways, a driving force behind the game. The absence of this particular soundtrack would change the entire atmosphere of the game, which isn't true everywhere. The importance of sound cues during matches is also important; directionality and identifiable sounds for each interactable item all impact gameplay.
Unfortunately, the consistent issue throughout all of the review experience was the difficulty in finding a game. It was common to join up for a ranked match only to languish in a lobby as singular players dropped in and out. Eventually, I resorted to joining custom matches, of which there were only a handful at the stock settings. For a game so predicated on its online play, a game that will live or die based on its community, it is disappointing to see matchmaking so hampered. It is also too bad that the map selection feels slightly anemic, but if Magicka is any indication, DLC is more than likely.
At the end of the day, we have to judge a game based upon what it delivers. It would be unfair to lambast a good game because of its small community, but then ranked matches and players who love them suffer the lack of uptake. Over time, this may well be an issue that solves itself, but until then custom matches sweep in to save the day. The Showdown Effect is a good game, and if you're a fan of platform-based competitive online, it's one of the best offerings available today. If you're not, it might convince you. Either way, plan on a learning curve and give it some time. Once you learn the ropes, it's a satisfying experience you aren't likely to forget.
Satisfying, skill-based combat, good sense of humor, mostly balanced
Difficulty finding a match, too few maps, melee a bit overpowered