Trepang2 can definitely be called the spiritual successor of F.E.A.R., while having a slight resemblance to it. The game is rather a mixture of F.E.A.R, Resident Evil and Doom/Wolfenstein. From the first two it takes the style, atmosphere, and aesthetics of unimaginable scientific research with secret labs. From Doom and Wolfenstein it takes the fury of the action, ultra-violence in all its glory. There is no antagonist character, clearly connected to the hero by the plot (in F.E.A.R. we are constantly visited by Alma, up to the credits). The combat system has little in common with the tactics of Fear – you can’t stick out from behind the corner, the enemies don’t possess the techniques and tactics of special forces. And the plot is presented in the form of “mission-collection of notes/analysis of dialogues-base-mission”.
Trepang, let me tell you, is an homage to the old games. It contains at its core various-different images from iconic projects. Trepang doesn’t need to be taken as something serious (except for the technical execution). It’s a game made by fans for fans. You can see that the developers were just getting high while filling the game, realizing all their desires and giggling. “Let’s add cool operatives in the manner of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six?”, “Oh, we need a level with SCP! Let’s put Backrooms in there too!”. “And let’s make the final boss a compact, fast Tyrant from Resident, and give him a blade too?”. “Ho-ho-ho, and let’s make the head of the corporation a Russian Anton Lazar.” “A helicopter boss is just what we need.”
- Developer: Trepang Studios
- Publisher: Team17
- Release Date: Jun 21, 2023
The game doesn’t pretend to be a serious game design. There are definitely moments where it is not done successfully or cramped. By the way, the project doesn’t seem to have a game-designer at all, so it’s all clear with that. Level-design also does not pretend to something exquisite – it is simple here. Levels are corridor-like, without any forks. There are few objects that allow you to take an advantageous position or height. There are no situations when there would be a conventional canister on the level, which could be blown up (but there are fire extinguishers!). Surprisingly, there are plenty of destructible objects in the game. Glasses, bottles, some interior items can be broken nicely. It’s a small thing, but it’s nice. Plywoods are shot through, but there are few of them here, this is not one of the chips of gameplay, alas.
Played through all the main missions at the “very difficult” level (4 out of 6). As for me, it is perfectly balanced – and challenging, forcing to use mechanics, skillful play, and does not manage to smother. The extreme (fifth) level is already hardcore and is recommended for replaying.
The balance and number of weapons are clearly calibrated. Each type of equipment is suitable for a particular situation or playstyle. From weapons there is a pistol, submachine gun, automatic rifle, shotgun, sniper rifle, arrow gun, grenade launcher and machine gun. Of course, I wanted at least 2-3 weapon options from each category. Not only SPAS-12, but also Benelli M4! Some “AK” or “M4”, and so on. In general, the budgetary nature of the project ruins all the “wants” about the cruel reality. It’s better to do little, but qualitatively, than a lot and badly. Especially noteworthy is the two-handed shooting mode. True, it is given only on 3 missions, that is after at least several hours of the game. But then use it whenever you want. I also like how the weapons are covered with blood during the massacre – it looks amazing. The only confusing thing is finding weapon parts on a mission-by-mission basis. Perhaps it would have been better to make weapon upgrades as a reward for completing a level, as is done with access to new weapons. But the weapons have good enough upgrades, and the upgrades themselves are put right in front of your eyes, without any of those stupid menus.
So, in order. Two pistols in hand is simply the most balanced weapon option. The module on automatic fire allow you to develop the speed to the level of a submachine gun. Does it make sense when the damage is about the same and the ammo is half as much? 26 in the clip (13 in each) plus 52 in the holster. At the same time the PP 100 in the clip (50 in each) and 150 in the holster. Two submachine guns allow you to effectively fight fast, because the recoil is minimal, reloading is fast, ammo is plentiful, and hitting is easy.
I liked the automatic rifle the least – it is not comfortable in two hands due to the high recoil, and it doesn’t have much punching power. Of course, you can attach a scope and shoot the villains in position. But when the game is specifically about pacing, it’s a bit of a pain. So there is a more adequate alternative to the automatic rifle – sniper. Shotgun is an ultimatum weapon. In two hands it is cool because it allows you to fight longer without reloading. Of course, it destroys both regular enemies and bosses. It’s also the only weapon that allows you to install an incendiary ammunition module. Just like Dragon Breath!
Sniperka is also a cool weapon – it doesn’t lose its effectiveness at any distance, and you can use it in two hands. But what for, if you can’t aim from the left rifle? The rifle has two modifications – the standard one, when 3 shells are fired, which explode afterwards. And a single shot with a piercing arrow, a kind of alternative to the sniper. Except that the rifle can effectively shoot only at heads, and the arrow can easily penetrate body armor, as well as shoot through several enemies.
The machine gun is the most powerful and effective weapon in the game. It has a huge piercing power, high rate of fire. It has only one disadvantage – before a series of shots it needs to accelerate the barrel, which takes several seconds. So it takes a clear skill of the player to use the full power of the weapon! There’s a bunch of modifications – bayonets that do damage in close combat, a handy scope, and even a “smart weapon” system. However, I didn’t try out the “smart weapon” system. Too much it reduces the damage of weapons. But for the easy difficulty level – it’s a cool casual weapon for spectacular combat. With the grenade launcher, I think, everything is clear.
You can only carry two types of weapons. And you can not take in both slots the same, for example, two machine guns. So there would be a reserve and did not have to run back and forth across the location to the nearest machine gun lying on the floor to take from him ammunition. As for me, this moment sometimes chokes. I think they should have added a separate slot for the gun. The pistol doesn’t really become relevant over time, and so there would have been an option to shoot back when you don’t have time to reload in combat, or to give you an extra tempo.
Perhaps the game could use some spectacular melee combat with cold weapons. It would dilute shooting, would allow you to be more powerful in a fight when the enemy is close, would help in situations of ammo shortage. For example, at least add a blade like the Subject 105 and 107. In general, there is an alternative to it – gun-fu. In combat we can kick, hit with the butt, grab the enemy, throw him, use him as a shield, drop him with a coaster.
With the replenishment of health, armor and ammunition will never be a problem. Developers very generously (even sometimes unnecessarily) scattered on the locations of medical kits, armor plates, crates with weapons. And don’t forget to loot defeated enemies! The game has a lot of diverse battles with crowds of enemies. In the mission we fought with so-and-so special forces, then with so-and-so. And here is also a local boss special forces came up. And in the second half went sharply mutants and horror. We came to the sectarians, and here are suicidal people with righteous fire. We came to Zone 83, and to us to meet soldiers in yellow protective suits with open arms. The enemy reacts well to the hits. Blood spurts, limbs are torn off, literally on the level you can organize a meat feast. Ultra-violence in all its glory!
As for me, in many dark locations is very lacking mechanics with night vision device. The flashlight is dim, sometimes it’s enough, and sometimes at least poke your eye out. At least the battery doesn’t run out like in Fear. But there is a suspicion that just because of the focus on horror, the game has no NV.
In addition to all of the above, we have two skills. The bullet-time (“slo-mo”) skill is a must-have ability, without which you can’t win most battles. It replenishes when you kill enemies, which incentivizes you to kill more efficiently, faster, to be the dominant figure on the battlefield. Without this skill, even a couple of soldiers will be hard to deal with – they hit with marksmanship, they like to throw grenades, and it’s hard to get through. Thankfully, this is the same game where body armor and helmets are not just a skin. They are a real defense, when shooting at which perfectly feel the hit.The invisibility skill replenishes over time. It is often used to quickly change position, go behind the back of enemies to, for example, grab the enemy. Stealth is taught in the prologue, but in fact it can be used only in a few locations with varying success. In general, what is and what is not.
In total there are 5 (or rather 6 with the final mission Syndicate) main story missions in the game. There are also 6 side missions, which give a little extra lore, and are just entertaining. There are two of them for hacking servers, two for mopping up with waves, one for killing bosses with wave repelling, one horror plus repelling several waves. Yes, they are mediocre, nothing new in them. But in the task of entertaining they do quite well.Area 14 is a prologue, a tutorial. It is relatively short, although in the final location they give you plenty to fight, and on high difficulty you can get stuck for a long time.
Pandora Institute is the first official mission of The Sixth. This is where the game shows what it is. At first the game seems to us just such a cheerful shooter, where for a super-soldier we knead the special forces of the corporation. And then we go down to Area 97… And here it is, the very atmosphere of Fear. Embient, eerie, blood-drenched rooms, dim light from emergency flashers, and mutants from the research of “Pandorium”.
Jorvik Castle is perhaps the most beautiful location in the game. It’s almost like Dimitrescu’s castle from Resident Evil 8: Village. And the mission is dominated by the shooter component, while the horror is only in one location (and it is there only to create the atmosphere of the boss battle).
Area 83 is a former Soviet military base built in the 70s. It was abandoned in 1986. The mission is executed in the best manners of Fear and SCP. All the notes tell of people going insane for some unknown reason. It was thought to be a consequence of the chemical release from the Object 83 crystal.
Of course, the horror component dilutes the hurricane shooter perfectly. But I barely got through Area 83, where the whole mission is practically a solid horror. During the passage I had to swear a lot, why the authors put such a horror in the shooter. Then came the realization that it’s done wonderfully. Depressing, pressurizing atmosphere in a dark, dark location with constant whispering around. Paranormal phenomena, hallucinations, diluted with periodic skirmishes with squads of enemies. But why it was necessary to add that flying shadow, which you have to bypass, and otherwise you’ll catch a screemer, it’s not clear to me – it appears once. I also liked the curtsy to the Backrooms universe. It lies perfectly under the general style of the atmosphere of the game’s horror, so also actively fighting with soldiers in yellow protective suits. It’s funny that the end of the mission directly refers to F.E.A.R.. Our character is the only one who survived supernaturally after the explosion, and the voice says “your time has not come yet”.
The final mission is simply the bomb. The assault on the main building of Horizon has the strongest atmosphere of the final mission “Ashes to Ashes” from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, as well as the assault on Arasaki in Cyberpunk 2077. Of course, here our character is not dressed in full armor to soak up a hail of bullets, but you can take a machine gun. It is noteworthy that there is exactly zero horror in the mission. It’s purely a mission to gut squads of people – and it’s done beautifully. So we are also asked important questions – are we fighting for the right side, is it all right? Overall, the final location is great. But I, like many others, don’t like it when they put you on a hard timer. Specifically here you have to destroy downloadable brains by running around the arena and fighting off crowds of guards. It’s not entirely clear what Lazarus wanted to accomplish in the end. To upload his consciousness by creating a digital emulation of the brain, and then? Interestingly, there are several methods of uploading consciousness. The first one involves feeding it with energy comparable in output to several nuclear power plants, and requires computing power of at least 1 million processors. And for just one installation! One of the scientists suggested a more compact way – transplanting an entire brain. Not physically, but by rewriting the neurons of the recipient’s brain so that they fully correspond to the donor’s brain.
Many reviewers point out the weak plot and lore that goes “tangentially” in the game. But for me, the plot and lore are maximized. They are spelled out beautifully. I think the crux of the misunderstanding is the reviewers not wanting to dig a little deeper. You can’t understand the plot in Trepang at a glance, you have to have a little curiosity, read a little, think, put the puzzle together. Then a really well thought out lore and plot emerges. It is entertaining and has a chance to continue.
The game has great graphics and no less wonderful optimization. It’s not surprising – the game is made on Unreal Engine 4. Separately it is worth praising the bloody, gloomy filling of levels. Here you are walking along a clean corridor of a complex or castle, and here is a heap of corpses hanging from the ceiling, a sea of blood on the floor and walls, sheer devastation. This perfectly creates the right atmosphere of merciless consequences of the intimidating experiments of the corporation. There are also a lot of simply beautiful landscapes, scenery – between battles to walk and look at everything is a pleasure. The light work is commendable, especially when it comes to horror moments.
The game has a gorgeous soundtrack. There are ambient tracks as well as industrial, progressive (and even cyber-metal) metal, metalcore, detcore, and all this in pure instrumental performance. And there are 58 of them, and the album lasts almost 2 hours! And it’s written by one man – Brandon McKagan. The ambient is perfectly immersed in the atmosphere of the mission. Every metal track sounds downright upbeat. My favorites are “Brother No”, “Waterworks”, “Pillar of Anomalies”, “Masked Martyrs”, “Patty”, “Horizon Hail Mary”, “Eco Round”, “Horde”, and “Horde” … Anyway, you get the picture.
As a result, you get pure ecstasy when going through it, especially towards the end. This is a great project with “not so scary” level errors. It can (and should!) be played by both fans of similar games and profane people. Even on the easy difficulty level the process is fascinating, the story and atmosphere do not let you get bored.
For 4 people – this is an amazing result. Although it is clear that other people worked on the game – at least 8 people are thanked, among them there are 3D artist, weapons artist, voice actor.
- Great shooter gameplay
- Great sound design
- Nice visuals
- Great optimization
- Duration of 4 hours for the main company