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Matterfall Review – Masterful Smart Matter

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In many ways, Matterfall plays out like a fantastic level of Resogun mixed with a little bit of Super Stardust HD. Housemarque have put their best of the best into Matterfall to assure that it speaks to the fans of their games as well as newcomers. This is probably the most challenging game they have made, and it put my fingers to the test as I had to use every button and every position of the analogue to make sure I avoided oncoming projectiles and destroyed the waves of enemies that came flying at me from every direction at the same time. 

Matterfall has about as much story going for it as a slice of cheese but somehow it works. You are a bounty hunter who has been sent into the city to investigate the source of this “matter infection” which has caused robots and new creatures to form in mutated ways. You now need to venture through three zones, each one with a challenging boss fight, to take down the source of this substance. 

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Matterfall is a side scroller and plays like every other great arcade shooter from the developer. You are drawn into the madness on screen and have to make sure you can shoot and destroy everything before it reaches you and deals damage. The longer you live without being touched by bullets, or this infected matter, the higher your multiplier goes. 

The bounty hunter has a special weapon known as Smart Matter which lets her manipulate blow glowing items in the levels. Aiming at invisible ledges would bring them into the world and give them a solid form, and shooting this Smart Matter beam at glowing spinning discs left behind by enemies, would cause them to explode like a bomb, destroying everything around them. When you dash into enemies a shockwave is produced that erases bullets around you and also stun enemies so you can either run away or shoot them. The former is never an option, however, as you would rather blow everything up as it looks and feels so wonderful. 

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Particles flying all over the screen, bright HDR-powered lights filling the room. Matterfall is pure eye candy without a doubt as I flew around the screen blowing everything up and watching pieces of my dead enemies break into pieces and then swish into the air to make them follow the gust that kicked up as I dashed. It was all a stunning display of the power of the PS4 Pro and its 4K HDR combination. 

It is the movement system in the game that makes Matterfall challenging. You can double jump but only move in a 4-directional dash when using the ability. This means that you have to be under the platform you want to jump up to or in perfect position to jump across a gap while at the same time perfecting the sequence of bullets flying at you so that when your dash ends you shoot a shockwave around you that will stun enemies and vaporise their bullets. There were often times where I really needed an extra four angles to dash into as it would have made the platforming a little less relentless as well as given a little more freedom to move around. 

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The game needs the player to be moving and active at all times as you run around each level and overcome its challenges. Enemies are also few in their designs and after you have killed a dozen of them, they only present a bigger challenge when they are combined on screen with another dozen of the same type and a few more others too. Giant spider robots might seem intimidating at first but when you realize that each enemy has a specific way to be killed that works better, things will be easier for you. The only real challenge was the boss fights and in particular, the final one which put everything I learnt in the game to the test. 

The hunter also has these items called Augmentations to equip in three slots. These range from passive buffs like increasing the area of the shockwave after dashing, to damage increase on weapons. Then we also have the extra weapons which add a secondary fire to the game. My favourite was the missile launcher which when you hold down R2 fires hundreds of little rockets that home-in on enemies. This weapon was a godsend every so often as the range was much further than my standard attack and meant I could try and defeat enemies without even getting close to them. 

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After a couple of levels and having the homing rocket launcher at my disposal, I was quite set with the way I played the game. The only challenge was facing the enemies and the harsh environment which I had to dash through. Everything in Matterfall comes down to timing as the dash, secondary fire, and even your overcharge ability that slows down time and lets you go completely gun crazy, has a cooldown. You have to take all this into account while calculating each enemy's attack, movement, and looking for an open spot to dash in and blow everything up. 

Matterfall is short with only three chapters and four missions in each. Sure, each mission takes over ten minutes, but there is no reason to go back to the game after finishing it. The game lacks an arcade mode, survival mode, and other than going back to save the survivors on each mission or replay it on a harder difficulty, there is nothing more to do here.

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Matterfall is fun while it lasts, but I wish that was a little bit longer. Still, the game offers a good 2-3 hours of fast-paced particle action that, if you are looking for a challenge, will put you to the test. 

Watch some beautiful 4K gameplay of Matterfall below. 

Available On: PS4 | Reviewed on: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 15 August 2017 | RRPR329

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