The number of iOS and Android ports has sharply risen on the Steam platform recently. Be it to your delight or chagrin, they are, seemingly, here to stay. In fact, more than ever, mobile phone games are being ported to every other platform possible. When we spotted Meltdown in the Early Access section on the Steam store we were impressed by its stylish cartoon appearance and rock-bottom price-tag. Then we noticed it was a port – shame..
Only, what we thought would be a quick cash-in port, was an entirely different beast altogether – this port was actually good! Could it be that the trend of lazy mobile to PC conversions is about to end? Have Phenomenon Games and Bulkypix ended the stigma attached to these games? A resounding “maybe” is the answer.
Meltdown is your typical co-op arcade shooter. You play as Zed, a space commando-type chap that has found himself stuck inside a malfunctioning space station. Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to fuck up as many robots as you can, find the exit to the space station and hopefully do so with armfuls of loot. Luckily for Zed up to three of your friends can join him in his battle for freedom.
Levels in Meltdown are typically three to five minutes in length, packed with enemies, cover to hide behind and lots of loot – and it’s all set to an electrifying dubstep soundtrack too! It is in no way a cerebral affair; you will literally be running from point “A” to point “B”, firing a hail of bullets at anything that dares show its metallic robot face. Having said that, the experience is a lot of fun, with each of your companions ramping up the difficulty and the number of bullets gracefully flying through the space station. The experience may not be complex but there are some features to keep players hooked.
Levelling up and a slew of upgrades provide ample incentive to keep playing. You can spend your hard-earned cash on a variety of guns and melee weapons, each with upgrades to their damage, accuracy, and clip size. The more you level up, the more weapons that become available to you.
As well as weapon upgrades, you are able to upgrade Zed’s abilities. Three specialisations are available – Specialist, Soldier and Medic. Earning enough skill points to upgrade each area will help keep you alive in difficult parts of the game.
It is worth noting that despite its mobile roots, Meltdown is an undeniably pretty game. Zed himself is nicely designed, with an almost cel-shaded design. Explosions are vibrant, and bullets leave a satisfying vapour trail; with a full-house of 4 players and a horde of deadly robots, the screen quickly becomes packed with life. Sadly, the space station lacks visual variety. In the few hours we have spent with the game so far, we have found it difficult to distinguish one level from the next. You could be excused for thinking you were playing the same level over and over again.
We’d like to say Meltdown is a complete success in its transfer from mobile to PC, but there are still a few niggling issues that the developers need to attend to. Chief among them is the annoying touch-screen interface, with its oversized buttons that are so big you’d need to have cataracts to miss them. Another annoyance is the total lack of multiplayer chat. There is no way to talk to your companions, to give them tips or hash out tactics – something that would greatly improve the experience. Even more annoyingly, when you have completed a level the game takes you to the upgrade screen, disconnecting you from your friends. Instead you must start a new multiplayer game and wait for them to rejoin you. It’s unintuitive at best and infuriating at worst.
Despite the minor issues we have with Meltdown we feel that it has made huge ground for mobile developers hoping to port their games to the PC platform. It’s of a high-quality, there are few – if any – noticeable bugs, and most importantly, it is fun. Phenomenon Games have committed themselves to the continued development of the game and have promised more content and improvements – something we hope to see more of from these kinds of games.
At its bargain basement price, Meltdown is more than a worthy purchase. If you can get past its mobile roots -heaven forbid! – there’s tonnes of robot destroying fun to be had, so grab a few friends and get to it, soldier!
Meltdown is available as an Early Access game on Steam