If you were to take Geometry Wars and TxK and produce a hybrid of them, you would most certainly end up with We Are Doomed. This twin-stick arcade shooter is another classic example of the 'easy to learn, hard to master' gameplay philosophy, and it's accompanied by explosive graphics, techno music, and a swarm of simplified enemies to take down from every angle. Essentially, that's all that there is to it – but does its lack of complexity belie an otherwise addictive hit, or will it leave you only shortly spellbound?
You occupy the role of a cute, white blob that's bound in a rectangular plane that you can move around in freely with a short-range, endless laser at your disposal. By collecting multi-coloured cubes and diamonds, you also build up a meter to eventually use a 'superbeam' that grants temporary invincibility and an upgraded laser that blows everything away. These shapes build up your score multiplier, too, which is increased depending on how many of them you gain and how many foes you defeat until you lose all of your lives. Before that happens, there are countless enemies and obstacles that will fly around you in greater numbers with the more progress that you make. In either of the game's two modes, the point is just to kill and avoid anything that will hurt you to get the highest score.
These two modes are Waves and Endless. The former consists of 30 rounds that become surprisingly tense as time goes on, and without starting at Round 11 or 21 with a checkpoint, making it through all of them in one run seems like an insurmountable task. Fortunately, reaching the end with checkpoints is a definite but still difficult goal to obtain.
New enemies are introduced every few rounds, consisting of weak blue triangles that slowly follow you in packs, deadly orange and yellow shapes that launch flaming missiles at you, groups of green triangles that multiply and take up to two hits to kill, and far more. When they are mixed together, the game demands your absolute focus and ability to know your surroundings at every moment, especially in the Endless mode, which is literally a round that never ends and is intended for expert players; you'll find yourself a true challenge here.
The game's extremely difficult, then, but it's also a balanced, tight arcade shooter that's definitely fun to get into for a time. It may present challenging gameplay, but it's better enjoyed in short bursts. For this reason, we can't help but feel that it would be a much more suitable fit for the PlayStation Vita, and thankfully, a version for the handheld is in development at the time of writing.
Besides the two modes, there is a leaderboard that tracks high scores globally, but that's all. The modes introduce the same enemies successively in each round or as time goes on, and while you never know where they'll appear in the small, rectangular arena, it's not enough to keep the game from feeling repetitive over time.
This doesn't negate the stunning visual presentation, which is geometric abstraction turned up to 11. When rounds transition, enemy shapes explode, or when you use the superbeam, vibrantly coloured shapes and lines will combine in breathtaking views of erupting lights, effects, and numbers. The novelty may wear off a bit, but truly, the art style does not grow old; you come to appreciate it more as you play on, much like its inspirations' different graphical styles as well. Unfortunately, there is a lot of exploding colours and shapes, so it's actually hard to follow your character or see that one, tiny enemy next to you while this is going on during intense moments, which cost us the odd life.
While there is a limited palette of music, the techno, glitchy songs throughout the two modes perfectly match the game's tone, so grooving along to the catchy beats of these relaxed tracks with soothing female vocals and awesome synthesizers is easy to find yourself doing. In addition, the sound effects even seem to go along with the music, adding in beeps and boops when you collect cubes and diamonds, white noise when you destroy larger enemies, and more.
As a whole, We Are Doomed doesn't quite meet its asking price. While what's here can be compelling for a short while, it quickly loses appeal. However, it's certainly not doomed, as it's a solid arcade shooter with a gorgeous – if occasionally distracting – art style and fitting music. Take it all in slowly, then, and you may be able to appreciate it like a fireworks display that you're in control of.