‘Screencheat’ Review

Platforms PS4 / Xbox One / Windows

Publisher Suprise Attack Developers Samurai Punk

Genre First Person Shooter Platform Played Xbox One

Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Doom and Unreal Tournament, what do these games have in common? Number one, they’re brilliant. Number two, they brought out the best elements in first person shooter games while redefining what the term first person shooter meant.

With Samurai Punk’s Screencheat it brings forward a new chapter in the first person shooter genre and breaths life into the almost dead split-screen mode we’ve come to forget about in recent years. It strikes the perfect balance and finds a way to differentiate itself from both the current competition and games that came before it. Screencheat is a unique and highly enjoyable game and what makes it special and significant is evident from the game’s title. Every gamer that’s enjoyed a round of split screen multiplayer knows the worry of an opponent looking at your part of the screen to ‘cheat’ and determine where you are in the level, thus comes the term ‘Screencheat’.

Drawing on the player’s fear of being cheated on, developers Samurai Punk turned the issue of screen cheating into the main gameplay mechanic for Screencheat by completely removing the players character model. The fresh gameplay idea involves players looking at their opponents’ part of the screen, as a necessity, to determine their location and eliminate them. This simple spin on the age-old shooter genre turns the game into a whole new beast.

The game features an expanded list of game modes that puts a stress on creativity and reinventing the wheel, and in turn, raising the expectation of your typical shooter. The game modes included put players in fast paced situations that highlight the game’s chaotic and entertaining gameplay. Screencheat presents a great balance of familiar and original gameplay ideas while also providing a large variety of nine game modes for players to enjoy. Even the iconic game modes, that players have enjoyed since Unreal Tournament in the 1990’s, such as ‘death match’ and ‘King of the Hill’ feel substantially different thanks to the unique gameplay mechanics alone.

While the game consists of many of the classic game modes that players have come to love, it also finds a way to introduce new game modes that blend unique rules and mechanics to form some highly enjoyable gameplay. This level of uniqueness is apparent in the game mode dubbed ‘Capture the Fun’, in which players chase around a single opponent who holds a confetti-spreading piñata, it’s crazy… but oh so fun. Another really exciting game mode was ‘Murder Mystery’ in which players must eliminate a specific opponent with a specific weapon in order to gain points. New experiences like these, really put emphasis on the idea of ‘screen cheating’. Combine these game modes with the crazy-antic gameplay and you can see how Screencheat differentiates from the competition why it strives in the currently saturated first person shooter marketplace.

Great gameplay is nothing without interesting and well thought out levels to accompany it, and Screencheat does exactly that. It’s evident that Samurai Punk put a great deal of effort into creating great, well-designed levels that accompany the screen cheating gameplay perfectly. There are approximately eleven maps included in the game, each being a well thought out and structured environment. The themes of levels range from A Helix map well above the clouds, to a Museum filled with dinosaur bones. Each map brings a unique flair to the game and the scenery in the levels change the experience entirely.

All levels in Screencheat are designed and coloured with a four-colour palette in mind, consisting of Red, Blue, Yellow and Green. This basic colour scheme is apparent throughout the entire game as it stylistically represents the four players on screen. The intentional colours evident in the levels make the act of screen cheating much easier which allows beginners or those unfamiliar with the map layout to easily transition into the unique gameplay style. Players can simply look at the colour of their opponent’s surroundings in order to gauge their whereabouts, this helps with balancing difficulty and helps create an inviting and approachable experience for beginners.

It’s unavoidably obvious that Screencheat was developed by fans of the split screen retro era first person shooters and this is apparent with the usability and ease of use multiplayer modes both online and locally. Instead of fiddling about with custom load outs and little tweaks players simply choose a weapon upon spawning on the map, just like an old-school first person shooter. The game features a tonne of unique and crazy weapons that keeps the gameplay tight and interesting as players strive to find the perfect weapon for the particular situation they’re facing.

While Screencheat features both online and local multiplayer it is best enjoyed locally with a few mates. I personally invited over a few friends to get the true old-school experience and we ended up playing rounds of multiplayer for hours on end… it was extremely addictive and fun. The local multiplayer really captures the essence and feeling given by the classic first person shooters like Unreal Tournament and Goldeneye while also bringing a new spin and flair to it.

Like all first person shooters the experience when transitioning from local to online multiplayer is different, with Screencheat you lose a lot of the essence of true split screen multiplayer. Especially with the game being focused around the idea of screen cheating, it just doesn’t feel the same playing online. There are a few glitches and issues when transitioning to online in regards to matchmaking and latency, but it was nothing major. Regardless, it is still enjoyable, especially the eight player online multiplayer which pits you against seven opponents all sharing one screen… it gets crazy. Bundle that insane eight player split screen gameplay with Screencheat’s voice chat and you’ll have one really enjoyable gaming session. The game also features a time trial mode and a challenge mode which is great to get you up to speed on the gameplay mechanics and improve your accuracy.

Additionally, Developer Samurai Punk must have a great sense of humour because I found myself extremely intrigued and entertained at the sly comments made by the quirky voice over guy when when eliminating an opponent, even the text-based comments kept everyone that was playing highly entertained. Hat’s off to Samurai Punk for making the game even more enjoyable.

Screencheat is the perfect example of a game that has taken an almost stale genre and reinvigorated it by blending a new idea and own unique flair into it. The game keeps the best elements from the first person shooter genre and completely reinvents itself by taking the age-old issue of screen cheating and turning it into the sole purpose for the game. Developer Samurai Punk has perfectly tied the gameplay with a great set of game modes that combines both pre-existing and original ideas to bring a fast paced and whacky gameplay experience that is worthy of being crowned ‘iconic’. The levels presented in Screencheat are suitable with almost every game mode and offer a great level of balance between beginners and advanced players. The local split screen mode completely captures and the essence of a retro first person shooter and finds a way to revive the, now, almost-dead split screen multiplayer mode.

Overall Developer Samurai Punk was able to produce an exciting, fun and, dare I say it, innovative first person shooter that combines crazy antics gameplay with a certain retro flair that is worthy of being put up there with the classics like Goldeneye and Unreal Tournament. Screencheat has the potential to be played competitively and I personally hope to see a bigger more polished sequel that puts this game ‘up there’, commercially, with the likes of Team Fortress 2 and other first person shooters. For any fans of the old 1990’s retro shooters or new gameplay experiences and specifically fans of local split screen multiplayer this is game is a must-play.

The Good

  • Innovative Gameplay.
  • Wide variety of fun game modes.
  • Unique and crazy weapons.
  • Great amount of levels.
  • Captures the local multiplayer essence.
  • Good Level of balance between beginners and advanced players.

The Bad

  • Minor Glitches Online.
  • Could be a bit more polished.

The Score: 9