The year is 2024 and you’ve finally cleared your backlog just in time for this infinitely replayable boss rush game from Gunman Clive developer Bertil Hörberg. This game has no actual platforming levels, only boss fights, so you better be ready to kick some arse.
The first real apparent strength of this game is that it looks amazing. It has a very high budget polished look while still having simple objects at the same time. The detail isn’t significant or overwhelming but there’s just something really nice about how the outlines, shades and colours are done. The bosses themselves have many moving parts and the animation stays smooth, the controls are sharp and everything runs at a flawless 60fps. This is peak action gaming reminiscent of Platinum Games.
That said I have to be honest that I was a bit disappointed when I found out this was a boss rush game, because I loved the platforming of Gunman Clive. I prefer a run and gun style game so I was unsure I’d like this. Luckily this game kind of proved me wrong and made me realise how much fun bosses can be. They are almost levels themselves really, just with a different presentation and layout to them. You have different obstacles to avoid, different parts to attack, and there’s still a good amount of platforming and climbing when the bosses are so big. There’s one boss where you just climb up layers of its body while removing parts, and it’s not that different to a regular platforming level in Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze. That thrill when you get to the top of the boss and nail that last weak point is really something special.
By being all about the bosses, this game actually removes some of things I normally dislike about boss fights in regular games. Sometimes in a big platformer or action game you won’t see a boss for an hour or more and suddenly you’re left with very strange design that has no relevance to the gameplay you were just playing. They can bring variety to a game when done well or inconsistency when done poorly. A game with ONLY boss fights, however, is literally forced to have good boss design to be a good game. Everything is riding on the boss fights as it’s the only game design there is. The boss fights in Mechstermination Force are thankfully creative and fun, with many layers and phases with proper and consistent movement. You basically want to find the glowing orange and red weak points which are the same on every boss. If something can be damaged or moved it will glow red as you shoot it.
The difficulty does require a lot of patience however, and this is probably what will turn off most people about this game. I died so many times just learning how to fight the bosses, but this is to be expected. Unlike a platforming game with bosses, in this game you know in advance they will be hard and challenging and have to take them more seriously. The boss fights are definitely harder than in most regular games, but this approach also leads to high replayability and gives us boss fights with a great amount of depth. Even after beating a boss you can learn new things about its patterns to complete the fight faster for medals, or clear it without taking damage.
While I have a lot of praise for this game it also has some issues. The character movement can get really messy when the surfaces rotate. There’s one particular boss that climbs a building and continually rotates that I found very inconsistent. It seems like you can’t use the grab button when something is diagonal but you can still grab a flat surface and move along the diagonal. A lot of times it just felt like the grab button didn’t work for me. There’s also some unfortunate design here where you can just die after destroying a weak point, if you’re in the wrong spot. The boss jumps into the air to “reset” and sometimes that can leave you with no surface. This is just an example using one boss but there’s quite a few things like this in other bosses where you can get bumped off in weird ways. Overall I’d say this is a small issue that can be overcome just by replaying the fight usually, but it’s still not perfect. Just some slight oddities with the physics here and there.
The lack of feedback with sound effects is also disappointing, sometimes you can’t tell if you’re hitting something or getting hit yourself, with the impact sound not really having much presence. You can think you’re doing well, then you look up and find yourself with one heart left, wondering what happened. There’s no real sign when you get hit, sometimes it’s just “oh that thing must have hit me”. The music however is quite good, the pleasant and upbeat tone of it all helps you believe you can win. It has quite a triumphant and epic nature similar to The Wonderful 101.
Mechstermination Force is a distinct game that does what it set out to do, create some brand new challenging boss fights. The fights are spectacular and awesome. There’s a nice chill hub world and progression system that makes replaying fights enjoyable, as you continually earn money to increase your maximum health and unlock new weapons. It’s a good game but I would only recommend it for people with a bit of patience. There are 14 bosses and that might make it seem like a short game when the boss clear time is 3 to 5 minutes usually. However you could spend an hour just retrying some fights, especially if you want a good score. Some of the later fights took me dozens of tries and a bit of luck to conquer, but it was very satisfying. If you want to challenge yourself with some spectacular set-pieces, then this game really delivers a visual treat and a thrill. Check yourself before you mech yourself.