Madshot PC Early Access Review

Madshot is a fast-paced, rogue-lite shooter with you flipping and tumbling across the level. Developed by Overflow and published by Digital Bros and HOOK, Madshot takes elements from games such as Hades with a hint of Dead Cell added to the mix.

To progress, you need to survive the procedural levels towards Cthulhu by either upgrading your base kit or through upgrades scattered all around the game levels. Welcome to a Madshot PC Early Access Review.

Bottom Line Up Front

Madshot has so much potential to be a good game if the developers try to further the narrative and fix some of the balancing issues that the game has. Other than that, Madshot is a fun and exciting Metroidvania style that captures players by injecting them with the drive to get further and further to the final boss.

Narrative

Opening cutscene of the Madshot: Cthulhu and the Protagonist having a staredown
Cthulhu and the Protagonist having a stand off

There’s not much to say about the game’s narrative, and I think this is one of Madshot’s most disappointing aspects. At the beginning of the game, a cutscene plays containing still images of a man holding a dead woman in his arms, most likely his wife. Struck with grief, the man puts on a mask and searches for eternal life by invading the Eldritch Mountain.

Standing atop the Eldritch Mountain is Cthulhu. Usually, authors depict Cthulhu as a cosmic entity with unimaginable power; hence we can only assume that Cthulhu is as mighty as he is in H.P. Lovecraft’s novels.

That’s it; there’s no context to the game whatsoever, which is underwhelming. If you compare this to a game like Hades, which has lots of dialogue, a good story, and even a great comedic touch to it, Madshot truly lags behind and is inferior when it comes to creating an in-depth narrative for the game.

Gameplay

Madshot's Level Map that shows legends and the paths that you can take towards the final boss of the level
Madshot’s Level Map: Paths that you can take towards the Great One

As a sucker for Hades, I enjoyed Madshot’s basic hook of repeating the game over and over until you literally “git gud” and finish the entirety of the game. What sets this game apart from Hades is their take on a rogue-like game, which the developers put in their twist by having a Castlevania-Esque gameplay and feel rather than a dungeon-crawler game like Diablo. It’s a refreshing take on the genre even though games like Dead Cells and Hollow Knights exist.

The developers did a fantastic job of polishing the game’s combat, punishing players who refuse to move and adapt to its fast-paced, acrobatic, and action-oriented gameplay. This aspect added difficulty and complexity in my opinion. I love how they designed a stage in which you can maneuver around (Smash Bros. style), throw stuff at enemies, and give you every advantage you can throughout the game; trust me, you’re going to need it.

Another thing that I enjoyed about this game is that not every run is the same, there’s luck and RNG involved in each run. The freedom of “freestyling” a run depending on what the game decides to give you certainly provides an addictive rush that makes you want to go for another round.

An example of Madshot's Alteration choices
Madshot’s Alteration Choices

The gameplay is tight and feels good overall and the mechanics are well-rounded even though I personally feel that there are some balancing issues between weapons and some of the upgrades. One criticism that I can raise about the gameplay is that not much is explained in terms of upgrades or mechanics.

Now, I’m not saying that Madshot should hold the player’s hand, but at least a general explanation through dialogue between characters would surely give new gamers a chance of playing the game properly rather than getting frustrated and dropping the game altogether.

Other than that, I highly think that the core essence of Madshot is extremely polished, and what excites me the most is that it’s only in early access. This means that we should be expecting more content and that the game will only get better in succeeding patches.

Visuals, User Interface, and Optimization

A Great One boss fight in Madshot
The Great One Chthonian Boss Fight in Madshot

The visuals resemble hand-drawn art, emphasizing bold lines that separate the foreground from the background, which is a nice touch. As for the user interface, it’s nothing special; however, it does its job by being clean and organized. Nothing is too over the top in the interface, and you can see everything as many visual indicators indicate when and where enemies will appear.

As I’ve played and reviewed many indie games, I mainly look out for the unique presentation, the art style, and how it ties the game together. The art style is something that I’m familiar with, however, it’s aesthetically pleasing and unique in its own way.

The grotesque designs of the monsters, especially the “Great Ones” are eye-catching and do a tremendous job of providing you with that “I’m the boss, therefore you should fear me” feel.

One drawback that I found is that some of the lesser monsters, mainly the zombies, bats, and rats, look bland and generic in my opinion.

Optimization and Controls

Before we get to the optimization, it’s essential to know the setup that I’m rocking while playing the game. Here are my PC Specifications:

  • Ryzen 5 3600 at stock speeds
  • Galax RTX 2060 with default factory OC
  • HyperX Fury 2 x 8 Gb sticks at 3200 MHz
  • Windows 11 (The latest version as of June 2022)
  • Acer Nitro VG270 at 165 Hz
  • PS4 Controller/Mouse and Keyboard

Regarding optimization, the game is well optimized on my end; however, I noticed that the game occasionally crashes on my PC. Still, it’s an early-access game; hence we can bypass the crashes I experienced during my playthrough as this might be an isolated incident.

The developers put in time and effort to optimize their controller support, but I’d highly recommend using a mouse and keyboard for a fast-paced rogue-like shooter game.

Replayability

Madshot's Death Screen
Madshot’s Death Screen

The developers made sure that Madshot is as replayable as possible as it’s the main “hook” of the game. The satisfying feeling you get once you reach and defeat a “Great One” is truly fulfilling, and the game rewards you even further by granting you more powerful upgrades through your successful playthroughs.

All of that seems great and satisfying, however, the lack of in-game weapons and the difficulty of unlocking them might become a key reason why players may lose interest throughout their playthrough.

Sound Score

Boss Fight against a Great One called Alchemist
Boss Fight against Alchemist

The background music in Madshot hits hard and has you headbanging while doing flips and eliminating enemies as you progress through the game. It provides an adrenaline rush as you make these cool and stylish moves. The background music is mainly composed of rock-metal tunes that will keep you slaying more enemies.

It reminds me of how Doom’s music had me playing all day and night because of how it drives the action and ties the game together with a “metal” ribbon. Upon using my studio headphones to test the game’s sound mastering, the developers did a great job of implementing a well-balanced and mixed sound stage for the game.

Other Alternatives to Madshot

Hades

Hades is a standout indie game from Supergiant Games. As opposed to Madshot, Hades has a different gameplay style as it is a dungeon crawler; however, the mechanics are much similar to Madshot. You’ll feel at home with Hades as you have similar upgrades, weapons, and even the rewards system from Madshot. You can call it the big brother of Madshot.

Dead Cells

Many fans of Dead Cells consider it the “Dark Souls” of a 2D rogue-like Metroidvania. As the game is already four years old, expect to see tons of content and playstyles in this game and excellent levels accompanied by its pixelated yet beautiful art style.

Curse of the Dead Gods

Curse of the Dead Gods is like Hades but with more traps and darker areas. The gameplay requires fast decision-making and strategies and even utilizing the level’s traps to your advantage. What’s unique about this game is that it offers Curses, in which the player would have a corruption gauge that increases as you lurk for more power. Your greed will inflict various curses that have different buffs/debuffs. This game is a solid dungeon-crawler for those seeking the thrill and challenge of being greedy.

Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight is a different experience from the rest of the games in this series. It is much more focused on platforming, combat, and exploring the vast world rather than repeating a procedurally generated environment. Hollow Knight has a pleasing aesthetic accompanied by its rich lore that will surely keep you exploring the world as a whole.

Bastion

Bastion is the founding father of Hades. It has the foundations of Hades’ core mechanics, in which the succeeding game innovated further. The art style is a hand-painted 2D artwork with a feeling that the artist intended to go for a watercoloresque vibe. With a deep story, eye-catching art, and a rich choice when it comes to character customization, Bastion is worthy of being part of this list.

Overall Pros and Cons

Madshot's Protagonist Raising His Mask
Madshot’s Protagonist Raising His Mask

Pros

  • Highly addictive providing tons of replay value.
  • Fun, dynamic and explosive action.
  • Banging music that complements the high-intensity combat.
  • Exciting bosses with unique mechanics.
  • Frustratingly challenging but rewarding at the same time

Cons

  • The game only has a few weapons that are hard to get due to the complexity of some quests—hoping that the developers will tone down the difficulty of getting new weapons and have a few more selections.
  • The game’s narrative is not as engaging as some of the games in the same genre.
  • Balancing issues with some of the upgrades—some upgrades are not worth using over others since they do not proc as much.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is Madshot A Good Game?

Answer: Madshot is a good game in my opinion and it certainly has the potential to become a top indie game like Hades, given that the developers push through with a better narrative. The gameplay is there, however, it seems to be lacking in lore, dialogues, and such. Hopefully, the developers will address this issue to not make the game look shallow when compared to games in a similar genre.

Question: Did Madshot and Hades Come From The Same Developers?

Answer: Hades and Madshot came from two different developers. Supergiant Games developed Hades, while Overflow developed Madshot. Hades is more of an inspiration for Madshot, hence you can see similarities in the gameplay and a few mechanics.

Question: How Do You Get Good At Madshot?

Answer: Madshot is a difficult game when you’re a newbie to the genre, however, since I’ve played Hades before and got addicted to it, it was not that hard to transition to Madshot. Regardless, here are a few tips to help you get better at Madshot.

1. Fit your transmutations according to your weapons.
2. Study enemy movements and patterns.
3. Platforms are your friend; move around the battlefield as much as you can to avoid getting swarmed by enemies.
4. Learn from your mistakes; dying will only make you stronger.

Madshot Verdict – 7.5/10

Madshot carrying the body of a dead woman
Madshot’s Protagonist Carrying The Body of a Dead Woman

As an early-access game, Madshot has a lot of potential. From its replay value to the fun and exciting combat, we can only hope that the developers consistently roll out content updates for the game before fully releasing it.

We’re also hoping we can get more context out of the story of the game, as it looks pretty shallow and barely scratches the surface of the narrative.

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