Game Review: Door Kickers: Action Squad

Release date: 2018
Version played: PlayStation 4 in 2020

Developed by PixelShard and published by KillHouse Games, Door Kickers: Action Squad is a spin off of Door Kickers, my first ever PC review. Instead of the top down perspective from the first game, this spinoff/sequel instead plays as a side-scrolling, shooter/platformer. Players are able to choose from six, unique classes of officer, each with their own pros and cons for various situations: the jack-of-all-trades Assaulter; ultra-dangerous shotgun wielding Breacher; first-in-the-door Shield; Agent Fergie, with strong melee attacks and high speed; stealth operative Recon; and an Off-duty Guy. Each level has a top objective, such as arresting a crime lord, defeating all enemy combatants or disarming a bomb to a time limit.

+ it is very simple gameplay, but each of the six unique classes play differently enough that any situation can be handled a number of different ways. I was content to max out the level on the Assaulter, but once I started trying some different ways to play, the game really opened up and I was able to complete previous levels with a better result
+ strategic abilities can be utilised, and these are unlocked by accruing points gained from defeating enemies and rescuing hostages.  Abilities include refilling your health, armour or secondary weapons (ie grenades, flashbangs, etc.) or by using each characters ‘special ability’, such as sniper support to clear visible enemies, turning your shotgun into a devastating flamethrower, or eating a Twinkie
+ the semi-randomised levels are generally pretty good, with only a few starting points or maze-like stairways/elevators between floors catching me off guard. Things like windows and sky lights can be used to scout enemies, or ensure you get the first shot off, and enemy placements seem to change slightly between retries
+ graphically, the game is one of the new, ‘old school’ pixel games, but the environments and characters are more than detailed enough. Levels range from simple, suburban homes to towering skyscrapers, and even a docked ship or a haunted house, but all look great in motion

Door Kickers: Action Squad_20200417215736
Off-duty Guy clears a room, ready to save the hostage. Note the special ability bar in the top left, with extra armour or a health refill available.

– the levels are quite short, averaging maybe three minutes each, win or lose, but that just means the overall game time is quite low. I breezed through the first two chapters in barely an hour, and was a bit disappointed to see there were only 5 chapters overall (plus bonus challenges), I would have loved a level editor, much like Door Kickers had

Should you play this game: I am a big fan of Door Kickers, and seeing this was a complete accident as I browsed the PlayStation Store a few weeks ago. I don’t know what I was expecting, but what I got was some ridiculously fun, sometimes quite intense police action.

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