Based upon the massively multiplayer online game, APB Reloaded, Retribution offers an entirely new, visceral and bloody tale of vengeance and retaliation, to take down the gang boss who left you for dead.
The game takes it’s cues from one of the year’s breakout indie successes, Hotline Miami, combined with the stealth and shadow-hugging gameplay of Splinter Cell or Metal Gear Solid.
The game has received a lot of attention already and the signs look good for this new addition to the APB universe. In a recent article, VG247’s Dave Cook was one of the first people in the world to play the game and reported:
I played it for about 40 minutes and I only stopped when the iPad’s battery died. Retribution takes many cues from Hotline Miami and employs a similar, top-down perspective, throwing the player into areas filled with patrolling guards capable of killing you in one round or swing of the knife. It’s hard, so wretchedly, infuriatingly hard. You’ll die often, but like Dennaton’s neon-laced hit, you’ll fail, suppress your anger (visibly at least), swallow your pride, hit the retry icon and run back into the grinder until you make it through relatively unscathed.
Managing director at Blazing Griffin, Peter van der Watt stressed that APB: Retribution is probably one beat slower than Hotline Miami, but that makes it no less challenging. The studio was keen to add a new layer of gameplay into that template, and this comes from the ability to stealth run stages. Until I sat down to play the game in the studio, nobody outside the team had played Retribution. They told me I was the first person to try and stealth run the entire first stage. They looked on to see what I’d do.
Unlike Hotline’s white-suited goons, the members of Retribution’s Horca gang come with cones of vision so you can strategically skirt around their gaze. So off I went, hiding behind the many walls and piles of trash heaped around Retribution’s entirely hand-painted stage. It’s a dark game, so being smart and moving slowly is the key to avoid running into an enemy’s line of sight. You can even use the game’s light/dark icon to lay low in shadows and jump between hidden vantage points to remain undetected.
I moved between wells of shadow by dragging my avatar around. Spotting a chance to kill an enemy from behind with no one seeing, I sprinted behind the chap by tapping him on-screen, only for him to turn and kill me in a second. He had heard the sound of my running feet on the concrete. So yes, Retribution also has a sound meter than also threatens to give away your position. The key is to drag your finger ahead of your hero ever so slightly to make him walk slowly and silently. Drag it further and he runs noisily.
It’s an ingenious control method that replicates tilting an analogue stick just a little bit to encourage slow movement. Holding your finger in that sweet spot while trying to avoid alerting the hornet’s nest of thugs around you does make for some tense gameplay. When that fails, you can unload with firearms and melee weapons by simply tapping enemies. Miss however, and your death is assured. When you’re stumped, you can always chuck porn mags on the floor to disrupt guard patterns Metal Gear-style.