From the makers of the fantastic Super Stardust HD, Resogun offers a twist on classic twin-stick shooters by adopting a cylindrical field of play. The narrative is based upon an alien race called the Keepers, who are imprisoning humans. It’s your goal, then, to destroy any and everything that you see, while snatching up any remaining mortals.

While the controls may seem simple at first, it will take you several hours to master the intricacies of the game. The left analogue stick moves your ship, while the right shoots either left or right. Later stages offer a delicate balance between mobility and raw combat, but the movement is always smooth, allowing you to fully dodge your rivals and return fire.

The game contains five different stages, each with a unique set of challenges. While each level maintains the aforementioned cylindrical play area, the enemy types and boss battles are different, making each arena feel unique and exciting. You can choose between arcade and single stage modes, the latter of which allows you to practice on levels that you might otherwise have a tough time on.

Additionally, you’ll have three different ships to select from, each challenging your abilities in unique ways. One craft is designed to fly slowly but offer powerful weaponry and enhanced overdrive, while the second offers a balance of speed and boost. Finally, the third ship flies fast but relies more on boost than its weapon’s firepower. Each craft boasts unique attacks that upgrade differently, so replaying each stage with the various options proves to be a rewarding challenge.

As already alluded, the boost ability is an extremely powerful tool in your combative arsenal. By hitting enemies while using the nitrous resource, it extends the length of the skill, allowing you to dismantle chains of foes as you cut right through them. A multiplier increases as you off opponents, but it requires a non-stop chain of carnage, as a break in the action will drop your accumulator right back down to one. Sometimes, a well-timed boost is all that you really need to get close to an enemy in order to maintain the multiplier.

Elsewhere, the overdrive skill deploys a giant beam of death, vaporising your opponents while providing a massive score boost. And if you didn’t already have enough on-board firepower, tapping R2 will release a bomb that annihilates everything within the game field with a beautiful, screen clearing shockwave.

While you’ll spend most of the game boosting and blasting through your adversaries, each stage will also contain ten humans that must be saved from the Keepers. There are various ways in which you’ll need to release the mortals, but most involve destroying special waves of drones. It’s worth doing, too, as by returning a human to the safety ship you’ll temporarily gain an enormous boost to your ship’s main gun speed, as well as other bonuses such as shields and upgrades.

The fusion of all of these mechanics – maintaining your multiplier, rescuing humans, and massacring opponents – demands absolute concentration during later stages, but that’s part of the appeal. There’s a lot to think about, and prioritising tasks provides an enjoyable stress that culminates in a gratifying experience when you pull off a perfect save and boss kill with a massive multiplier.

However, with selectable difficulties, new players can be eased into the experience on each different tier. These various modes offer an excellent way for casual and hardcore gamers alike to enjoy the title and progress through the game. On the Rookie setting, for example, enemies will move slowly and bosses will die faster. As you move up to Experienced, however, the foes will not only be trained to kill, but also to dodge your firepower. Lastly, the Veteran and Master difficulties will challenge even the very best pilots, as enemy ships move quickly, shoot even faster, and sometimes explode into a spray of bullets.

If all of this sounds too much to handle alone, you can enjoy the title co-operatively with a friend or a stranger. While it’s fun to team up with a buddy, though, local multiplayer would have been a great option. Furthermore, while the addition of a unique set of leaderboards is appreciated, the interaction between jets is limited. It would have been nice if you could save a downed friend or even garner a score boost when ships are in close proximity, but despite the additional player, the mechanics remain very much the same as in single player.

Fortunately, the game is absolutely breathtaking whichever way you opt to enjoy it. The entire world is built out of voxels, which are essentially small cubes with their own physics. This means that when you defeat a boss and reach Armageddon mode, the entire stage erupts into a beautiful display of tiny three-dimensional squares. Stages also deteriorate as enemies explode and bombs detonate, and this paired with the insanely good lighting and physics engine serves as a true showcase for the PlayStation 4.

In addition, the phenomenal sound design complements these visuals perfectly. Explosions are punchy, and important information is outputted through the DualShock 4 controller, providing you with details on the humans that need to be saved in order to maximise your score. It’s a great example of the benefits that a second audio source affords, even if its implementation initially seems trivial.

Conclusion

Aside from the simplistic online co-op and lack of local multiplayer, it’s hard to pick a fault in this explosive PS4 exclusive. Much like Super Stardust HD before it, Resogun offers an almost perfect fusion of challenging and rewarding action. While the core arcade mode does lean a little on the short side, this is a title that you’ll struggle to put down while you battle your way to the top of the online leaderboards. Plus, did we mention that it looks amazing?