In this topdown 2D, real-time strategy SWAT team title by Killhouse and Qubic Games, sneak by and assassinate enemies suspects and rescue hostages, all while not taking a wrong step. Use all the equipment and space at your arsenal, tredging through dark corridors and dimly lit areas to elimate all hostile suspects and complete your mission. In a game where danger literally lurks around every corner, the line must be carefully drawn between proceeding with caution and kicking down the doors and charging in guns blazing.
To unfortunately kick off on a negative note, the tutorial is a hot mess. Rather, I should say what the developers think passes for a tutorial is a hot mess. When you're ready to start the first mission, the game throws a myriad of text boxes your way, with them saying (paraphrasing) "press the A button twice to bring up the wheel to then select the thing by pressing the thing" and it's all just very overwhelming before you even get into the action. In my 20+ years of playing video games, the most intuitive tutorials are always ones that ease you into the gameplay and for the player to learn by doing. Not to harken back to a cliché as it's been used as an example to death but take Super Mario Bros.; from the start, you are thrown into World 1-1 with a Goomba to jump over and the game gradually introducing new mechanics and hazards as you progress. A word vomit is not going to cement the mechanics in the player's mind and it may even turn the player off from persevering with it, which would honestly be a shame.
Once you get into the swing of things, Door Kickers can be a lot of fun. There's a lot of satisfaction to be had from mapping out a rescue operation with stealth and precision. The better (and faster) you are, the higher star count you receive, providing that incentive that came with classic arcade titles. Therefore upon a successful mission, you feel powerful and clever.
In addition, the stars also act as a form of currency, allowing you to purchase new weapons, armour and special abilities. This provides greater incentive, as well as a completionist mentality to go back and desimate through earlier levels with your beefed up units. It also provides a greater sense of progression, knowing that you're getting stronger as you go.
The controls for the Switch version allows you to choose between standard controls or touchscreen. As the Switch version has come after the PC and mobile releases, the physical controls feel like an afterthought and much more cumbersome than its original intention. If you decide to play Door Kickers with physical controls, you will need to familiarise yourself with the - button as this allows you to stop time and plan out your next move. Caution is key and can turn a 30 second mission into a three minute mission.
Each level becomes increasingly complex as you go, from simple room layouts to complex mazes. Each door and corner is vitally important as you need to always be aware that you are not vulnerable to an unsuspecting ambush. However, you can use these layouts to your advantage; for example, if a room has two doorways, you can position an infantryman on either side and burst in simultaneously, catching the suspect(s) unawares.
There is a lot of content in this game. There are 84 quick missions to beat and it doesn't end there. When you reach level six, you can undertake campaigns that, despite containing the same content as the regular quick missions, are a string of missions where your progress carries over from one to the next. This means that if a SWAT team member falls, they cannot come back for the remainder of the campaign. I found this mode to have much more depth and meaning behind the gameplay, with a permadeath mode that made each fall count. It also makes you put more consideration into which unit has what equipped, whether they are a standard gunman, equipped with a machine gun or are holding riot shields to be sent in first for extra defense.
Story / Personality
Personality-wise, there's not much to say here. The presentation is quite bland and it rarely varies, so you are simply jumping from one mission to the next without any hint of backstory other than you are a cop and you need to kill the bad guys because reasons.
The campaigns were the only remnants of plot throughout the entire game but all-in-all, they merely consisted of a couple lines of scene setting with a fancy image and title. It's certainly lacklustre but if I were to clutch at some straws, at least it's something.
Graphics / Art Direction
As mentioned previously, the art presentation is quite dull and bleak, with little to no variety despite the odd level on the beach here and there. It helps to capture the dinginess that these situations can be set in but above all, the colour pallette clearly allows the player to identify enemies, along with the lighting that is provided by each unit's torch.
Music / Sound Design
There isn't much of a soundtrack here either, rather the game chooses to focus on the sound effects and speech from both infantry units, hostile suspects and hostages. You can equip your units with silenced guns which help to provide stealth in your missions but guaranteed, you're not going to be achieving that third star by progressing that slowly.
Final Score: 64%
Door Kickers can be a difficult game to wrap your head around at first but if you persevere, you can find a fun little gem here that suits a 10 minute bus ride. This title will resonate well with those who like a bit of strategy to their action and with a wealth of content to indulge in, there certainly is a lot of bang for your buck. Is it going to light up the charts? No. Is it going to be the talk of the playground between the kids at school? I hope not! But is it fun? Yep, it sure is.
Thank you for checking out our Door Kickers Switch review, thank you to Wiretap Media for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
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