I’m going to be honest. When the first video of Trepang2 captured the attention of the internet, I couldn’t help but think the single-developer first-person shooter would forever remain little more than a tech demo. Oh, how happy I am to report that I was wrong. Empowered by a boost of three added developers and the backing of publisher Team17, the modernized throwback has expanded on its original humble vision and provided a worthwhile diversion for those looking to wreak bloody havoc in close-quarters spaces.
Before we proceed further, let’s get something out of the way. The title Trepang2 may seem to indicate that we’re looking at a sequel here (or sea cucumbers), but it’s actually stylized as Trepang². That should adequately clear things up, right? Okay, we can move on with odd naming conventions out of the way.
Although Trepang2 has its moments of appearing as a proof-of-concept, the over-the-top FPS is an exhilarating callback to memorable shooters of the past. The introductory moments immediately bring to mind the early 2000s F.E.A.R. and Black sitting as beloved FPS titles of former gaming generations. The (mostly) dim environments, the bulky and punchy weapons, and the exaggerated gibby violence all evoke nostalgia for those old games. But while Trepang2 has obviously borrowed from genre classics, it can modernize the package for the current gaming landscape. The end result is a game that expertly blends the slow-motion shootouts of F.E.A.R. with common bursts of breakneck Doom pacing, assuming you don’t opt for stealth which is surprisingly an option in this bombastic FPS.
Trepang2 isn’t here to contend with the overly inflated budgets of AAA behemoths. Instead, this throwback shooter highlights a critically overlooked fact in the modern gaming industry: You don’t need $220 million to build a game worth playing. And Trepang2 is undoubtedly worth playing. The gunplay has managed to elevate the source material of its inspiration, bringing the spirit of Monolith Productions’ all-but-abandoned IP into the modern day. Enemies, both of the human and more monstrous varieties use their aggressive and effective AI to swarm the player throughout each level. The player has a small but effective customizable arsenal at their disposal to shred all that stands in the way into little more than bloody mist.
A generous slow-motion resource can be activated to appreciate flying gibs and environmental debris. It’s truly a sight to behold when it’s all unfolding before you. Sure, there’s a cloaking ability, but its use seemed more beneficial as a repositioning tool or to gain a breather rather than engage in actual stealth. Such tactics only serve to slow down the addictive speedy pacing, which is a big no-no in this reviewer’s opinion. But at least we can appreciate that the game supports multiple playstyles. That freedom is further expanded by the customizable loadouts. Whether you want a silenced pistol with a laser sight for stealthy infiltrations or you’d instead wield two assault rifles simultaneously for the ol’ guns blazing approach, Trepang2 has you covered.
You may have noticed that I have yet to discuss the story. That’s because it’s the weakest point of this otherwise entertaining package. The player is thrust into the generic boots of Subject 107, who finds himself a part of the equally generic Task Force 27. Together, they square off against an evil corporation named Horizon. It’s an explosive, campy narrative that may take itself a bit too seriously, but it packs all the same dumb fun as any summer blockbuster film. As long as you can accept the disjointed ridiculousness of the premise and its unoriginal script, there’s much to enjoy across the several-hour campaign.
When you’re sliding around levels with dual-wielded shotguns in hand and blasting baddies with incendiary ammunition with laser focus, little else pings on your radar other than the blissful joy of the onscreen destruction. Multiple standout levels house the visually stunning exchange of bullets, with the Horizon HQ being one such memorable playground. Regardless of which level you find yourself on, the most impressive aspect may be that it all plays out with virtually zero performance issues. Even with the amount of particle effects and torn-up bodies littering the screen at a given time, Trepang2 does not yield. The feat is only made more impressive because the 4-man Trepang Studios has no other game associated with their name.
Trepang2 Review Verdict
Trepang 2: Trepang2 is a flashy, fun FPS that evokes the best of F.E.A.R. and DOOM and a heap of nostalgia for older game design. While the story underpinning the campaign is relatively weak, nearly every other component holds up well to scrutiny. Excellent performance is the real cherry on top, tying together the fast and fluid carnage that players can expect to partake in as Subject 107. One can only hope that any future sequel (Trepang3?) manages to build off the strong foundation put forth by this exhilarating first outing. – Joshua