Typically we people think of Early Access, it’s games like The Haunting: Blood Water Curse, a title even a spokesperson for the company noted was broken. However, there have been some great examples too. Hades has won countless awards and praise, with it starting as an Early Access game years ago. In fact, the amount of improvements is staggering, to the point where it’s impressive how much it grew over the years. Arcadegeddon is certainly in an interesting place in this regard. IllFonic has shown they can make great experiences, such as Friday the 13th the Game and rumored PlayStation Plus game for Sept. 2021 Predator Hunting Grounds, but Arcadegeddon goes in a very different direction.
Not only is it joining the roguelike boom we seem to be experiencing, but it also features co-op and a wide variety of features. Also, unlike a lot of games in this state, there is an understanding of where it wants to be, even if the dates might change. This is all a great start, but it doesn’t matter if Arcadegeddon isn’t worth your time. Having played it rather extensively, I have a very optimistic view of its future.
When first starting Arcadeddon you’re introduced to the premise. Your uncle, Gilly, made a game that corporate has invaded and you need to fight. To better this quest, you’re told to gain the support of the DRK, PNX, and NT8 gangs. This is done through a series of challenges, that concludes with new threats and gangs appearing.
Each group has its own belief, style, and unlockable looks. Each gang has its own style, ranging from ‘80s rock to techno, giving players a lot of variety. Unlocking them also unlocks the potential to obtain different colors, along with weapon skins and more. These are more long-term goals, with some of the tasks requiring specific drops, good luck, or changing your play style.
For example, getting 150 kills with a shotgun and 100 kills in 10 minutes don’t work well together. Maybe you can accomplish the main goal, defeating three bosses, while doing the shotgun task but to kill 100 in 10 minutes you need to be shooting first, second and third without even thinking of asking questions. These tasks also add variety to runs beyond what RNG gives you.
Since this is a roguelike, every run of Arcadegeddon is going to be different. Similar to Returnal or Hades, you’re going to notice recurring structures and designs, which is really an advantage in the world of Arcadegeddon. Most weapons and upgrades referred to simply as hacks, come from chests that seem to largely spawn in predetermined locations. There is no guarantee every spot that had a chest will have one again, though there seem to be paths that always have one, they give you an idea of where to start looking.
Runs themselves come down to luck and playstyle. Stages start off rather easy, with mostly weak enemies defending this or that location. Finishing a stage increases the difficulty, as does pay a machine located at the halfway point. It’s a great investment if you’re looking for a more thrilling experience or higher score but it won’t always help you with objectives you’re working on.
As for enemies, almost all of them are straightforward, with there being distinct weaknesses. Smart players either have a variety of weapons to overcome strong, fast or frequent enemies or teams with a dedicated person for each role. There are also surge abilities that can quickly kill major threats, heal a team, or more. This allows players to have a more traditional tank, damage dealer and healer set up, though you can mix and match if that works better for your group. There are also mechanics that support an aggressive style of play, like a slide, making each run rather thrilling.
All this being said, Arcadegeddon isn’t quite perfect either. Similar to Returnal, there really isn’t a sense of progression. Alliances will unlock new cosmetics, along with additional surge abilities, but the core experience doesn’t really change. With Hades, I can invest in various buffs that make later runs a lot easier, or Enter the Gungeon gave me new weapons, whereas you either get better or you don’t. This can take away from the progression, as a limit has to be overcome with skill and ability, over rewarding effort.
There is also a fair bit of room for more weapons, locations, and bosses, but all of these things are currently listed in the roadmap, which can be found above. These suggest more variety and make me hopeful for the future, even if the original version is still a great effort.
Arcadegeddon Early Access Overall Impression
There is absolutely no denying Arcadegeddon has to room to grow and expand to a much better game, but the base form is addicting and fun. I love how I can run through stages and casually take out enemies or focus on objectives. As I continue to face certain challenges, I either discover a better way to accomplish it or obtain better weapons for the job. Having a weekly leaderboard also makes the arcade-esque experience more accessible. My friend and I closed out the week at like eighth, with us really having the potential to hit the top five. Given there are some extremely skilled players, like the current first place in this week’s duo is almost as much as second and third combined, I don’t need to be haunted by being in the top 1,000~ runs of all time and can instead work towards being the best this or next week.
For these reasons, I see a lot of potential in Arcadegeddon and am excited to see how later expansions improve the game. Given one of my biggest complaints, outside of PVP seeming like an out-of-place addition, is not having a good idea of what purchasable cosmetics look like, I could easily see later updates making this into something special.
[Editor’s Note: Arcadegeddon was played on PlayStation 5 and provided to us to experience.]