The premise of Livelock is that an extinction level event forces humanity to upload their consciousness within robots so that humanity may live on in some manner. When this occurred, a small haven of humans were hidden away in cryogenic sleep in hopes that one day, Earth would be safe to repopulate. While humanity slumbered, the new robotic race that inherited the earth was to be their protectors. Unfortunately, a massive meteor (Editor’s note: Who didn’t see that coming?) impacts the earth which causes the robotic races to become corrupted and forget their programming. Within this corrupted state, they formed their own factions, eventually battling it out with each other and humanity was ultimately forgotten. It is into this environment that you are thrust, the Intellect. In typical video game storytelling, you awake with the purpose of finding the haven of New Eden and restoring humanity within the world. This of course can only be accomplished by carving a path of destruction through the three factions, which each hold pieces of a key to find New Eden.
Each enemy faction has their own unique feel. The first, Abbadon, are cobbled together trash robots that are ghastly and the things of nightmares. Noesis, revolves around the concept of being part of a hive mind, and have an insect aesthetic. This faction was my personal favorite to battle. The final faction, Praetorian have attempted to regain some semblance of humanity and are humanistic in form. This faction is also based in Russia so there’s some cool Soviet looking designs to everything as well. There are three different Intellects players can choose. I favored Hex, which is your typical grunt soldier type. Your other options are Vanguard’s, a tanky character who specializes in melee combat and Catalyst a support character that can employ combat drones and buffs during battle. Livelock can be played solo, but the game is the most fun when rolling with a party of three. The sensation of spewing neon death as you crash through environments like a T-100 never got old, unfortunately, without companions to help along the way, the game feels like a bit of a slog.
Regrettably, I ended up playing most of the game solo as the player base on PC just seemed to be lacking. Matchmaking revealed no players with open games forcing me to go it alone. When players did drop in the game was much more enjoyable. Enemies felt a bit too bullet spongy for my liking, and having others join in helped the pacing of combat move quicker. Weapons within the game are decent enough, but seemed to lack a satisfying punch. This is best illustrated when I unlocked a rail gun. Video game history has trained us to know that the rail gun is a weapon of ultimate power that insta-gibs anything unlucky enough to be down range. This power fantasy faded for me as soon as I shot the first enemy that didn’t fly into pieces upon hitting it. It was so dissapointing that I stopped using the gun altogether, and opted for a quicker firing laser rifle. Weapons can be upgraded over time which may have helped with this, but I just didn’t feel it was worth the resources.
There are numerous upgrades to unlock along the way, and they are spaced in such a way that almost every level you complete, you are rewarded with something. Most of the excitement of unlocks unfortunately wears out by around level 10 (out of a possible 30). This is due to unlocks after this point being slight improvements over existing powers or passive buffs. It could just be my play style, but at that point I found my groove between weapons and powers and didn’t feel the need to experiment with loadouts anymore. It felt like a shame as there were still 20 levels of unlocks still to go.
Overall, I feel that Livelock is a serviable top down shooter. It’s a great palate cleanser, but their isn’t enough to make it feel like a main course. If you have friends that are willing to commit with you on getting it, it’s a fun time. That being said, a low player base hinders the fun factor if you plan on going it alone, or worse have no friend. I played through the story in about 4 hours, and didn’t feel much motivation to grab the next class and power through largely due to having to play alone. There are additional game modes to play, but again didn’t interest me due to lack of being able to find partners to pair up with.
Livelock is currently available on PC, Xbox 1, and PS4