If there’s a constant in the gaming universe right now, it’s pixelated side-scrollers. Door Kickers: Action Squad is pixelated, yes, but it isn’t another exploratory metroidvania style adventure. Action Squad is a co-operators special that’s for distant or couched friends to shoot bad guys with the not-at-all-questionable overarching theme of police buddies just busting up mansions and warehouses, going room-to-room, looking for hostages and bombs.
Action Squad doesn’t take itself seriously. There is a progression system of upgrades to purchase between levels. Both skill points on a tech tree of sorts, and among the purchasable gear options are just regular frag grenades that don’t care if you’re hitting a hostage or a hostage-taker and this is what you see if you’re thinking about buying grenades:
I haven’t chosen those yet, but they’re in-line with the type of parody of police work that Action Squad is going for, and there are definitely situations in the game’s levels that call for room-clearing explosives.
There’s a very fine line between parody and cringing, and while I think that Action Squad earns its comedic violence, I also cringe every time I hear the unfortunate suicide-bombing character charging and yodeling what is probably nonsense at the forgettable player characters.That’s a stereotype best left behind.
I won’t be reviewing Action Squad, but I can recommend it for anyone looking for a good game to play with a friend. It isn’t perfect, Action Squad has crashed once or twice over the three hours I’ve spent with it so far, but I like that a studio called “Killhouse Games” can prove they don’t take themselves entirely too seriously by working with PixelShard Labs on this project. The music is good, the sprite work is good, the gameplay is fun. I love almost everything about this game. It even seems to revel in your loss, because you still earn experience points towards leveling up your characters and then it throws out an exclamation mark that seems to indicate an excitement in your SWAT team dying:
Once you restart the mission, the level layouts are the same, so you will sometimes need to figure out how you’re going to do things differently the next time. One level in particular stands out where I had to kick a corpse through the odd skylight in a room with another room above it. Dropping the corpse lured enemies to one side of their basement. Every time I dropped down through the basement’s skylight without first luring the two other murder-men waiting below, I would almost always cause a stray bullet to hit a door, that would then open and bring in two more killers which was about one too many to deal with. Even once I figured out this piece of the murder-puzzle I had to remember to turn on the generator and press the elevator call-button. Otherwise opening the door to the elevator shaft would release the two bonus slayers.
In a world where we need to get the people who enjoy the knowledge that the doors of the powerless are kicked down all the time, this is a good start for Killhouse Games to pivot away from the serious tone in the original Door Kickers. Oh, what’s that? You say they’re working on Door Kickers 2? Well, good luck to them on that.
One more unfortunate note, while Door Kickers was on Windows, macOS, and Linux, the Action Squad is only available for Windows through Steam at the moment. However, Action Squad‘s price is right at $14, and there are a ton of other modes, including one infinite Die Hard-esque tower with procedural generation