Project Downfall Review | Xbox Series X

Project Downfall is a fun boomer-shooter that is a clear love letter to Hotline Miami.

By MChipmunks, Posted 31 Jan 2024

All the way back in 2012, a little video game was released that took the indie gaming scene by storm. A game filled to the brim with violence and style. That game was Hotline Miami. Hotline Miami went on to be a huge success, cementing itself as a cult classic.

With its gratuitous amounts of gore, vibrant and colorful art direction, and bombastic synth wave/electronic soundtrack, it's no wonder it became a hit! It would be a no-brainer for any fledgling game developer to draw inspiration from the groundbreaking success of Hotline Miami. Enter Project Downfall.

Project Downfall, Review, XBSX, Gameplay, Screenshots, John Wick, Keanu Reeves, Fast Car

Project Downfall was developed by Solid9 Studio in conjunction with MGP Studios. Not much is known about Solid9 other than the fact that they have only developed three titles, including Project Downfall. This is their biggest project to date, with the previous two titles being much smaller in scope with Exorder, a strategy game, and Kentucky Robo Chicken, a 2D platformer.

On the other hand, MGP Studios are a bit more seasoned when it comes to making games. While only having three games themselves, MGP Studios projects have more notoriety, with two of their titles being Roll’D, a casual racing game, and Sinless, which is a point-and-click adventure set in a visually pleasing cyberpunk setting.

At first glance, you might just look at Project Downfall and pass it off as nothing more than a clone of Hotline Miami. Of course, you would; that was the first thought running through my mind upon boot-up. From a visual standpoint, it looks almost one-to-one, just from a different point of view, being in first-person. The protagonist is unashamedly a carbon copy of John Wick as well, but that isn’t a detractor from the core game.

After all, this is an action game, so who wouldn’t want to base their main character around someone as badass as Keanu Reeves? The box art tells you all you need to know about the ride you are in for. Project Downfall does not feature a well-crafted narrative; all you need to know is that you are out for vengeance and will take whatever measures necessary to carry it out.

Project Downfall features arcade-style gameplay, much like Hotline Miami before it. As you kill each enemy, your score will increase and will exponentially grow with each kill in succession. There is a score multiplier as well that goes higher the more variation you incorporate into your kills.

Project Downfall, Review, XBSX, Gameplay, Screenshots, John Wick, Japanese Fat People

For instance, throwing your gun at an enemy to stun them, followed by a death blow, will give you a much bigger bonus towards your score than if you were to just kill the enemy outright. There are a variety of different methods you can use to rack up a high score, so go nuts with it! The only limiter to your score is your imagination. For this review, I will mainly be focusing on the normal mode. In normal mode, you can only have so many weapons in your arsenal at once.

As you are dropping bodies left and right, so are the weapons. Most of the time, you will be bare-fisted until you either kill an enemy and take their weapon or you can search around the map. There are hidden nooks and crannies everywhere that you can go snooping around for some weapons, amongst other tools, at your disposal. Speaking of those tools, in Project Downfall, your character has an affinity for popping pills, and doing so leads to a new gameplay mechanic.

Popping pills in Project Downfall will slow down time and increase your strength for a limited duration. You will have much better reaction time whenever you are under the influence, and you can even kick enemies' heads off in a single blow! Across each level are barrels/drums scattered around the map. Normally, you would be unable to move these, even with kicks, punches, or weapons. Once under the pill's influence, you can kick these across the map at enemies and watch them explode!

If you pop enough pills, you will build up your sanity meter, leading you to access your rage. Rage works much like pills, slowing down time and beefing up your abilities. You have access to a staggering amount of weapons for your arsenal in Project Downfall. As briefly mentioned, normal mode will only give you access to a few weapons at once, so you will want to assess the situation accordingly to make use of the right weapons.

Project Downfall, Review, XBSX, Gameplay, Screenshots, John Wick, Serious Business

In Project Downfall, you have many types of guns and melee weapons, such as katanas and lead pipes, to bludgeon your foes. You will embody the feelings of a badass when you can quickly swap between melee weapons and guns on the fly. I found the gunplay to work extremely well, and it felt so satisfying to get headshots.

The game shares even further similarities with Hotline Miami when it comes to the brutality of the difficulty. Project Downfall is definitely not for the faint of heart. In later stages, it gets downright insane with all the enemies being hurled at you. Even in casual mode, it doesn't change the difficulty of the enemies, as they are well-programmed and will immediately hunt you down upon first sight.

Casual mode allows you to wield an infinite amount of weapons, so you never have to pick and choose what to keep. Project Downfall never feels unfair in its difficulty. Anytime I lost an encounter, I knew it was an error on my end and would quickly rethink my approach upon dying so often. There are so many different ways to handle an approach that it was enjoyable to conjure up all sorts of different methods to complete each encounter.

One of the most striking aspects of Project Downfall is its presentation. You are in a cyberpunk city filled to the brim with a medley of vibrant colors and retro aesthetic. When I first played the game, I was instantly reminded of all those PS1 first-person shooters I played many moons ago. The low-quality textures actually complemented the vibe the teams were going for. The characters all look like cardboard cutouts and somehow work alongside the 3D world they inhabit.

Project Downfall, Review, XBSX, Gameplay, Screenshots, John Wick, Boomer Shooter

Everything but the characters are all fully modeled in low polygonal glory. At this point, I cannot help but mention Hotline Miami once again, as it is not only the gameplay that is similar but the world as well. There is something to be said about the gratuitous amounts of gore and violence set to such pleasant backdrops of deep reds and blues. When you pop pills, a blur effect is added that enhances the look even further.

There are also plenty of settings to mess around with in the visuals department. If you want to scan lines on a CRT television set, by all means, it is there for you to toggle at any time. It is a nice touch for gamers wanting to relive the glory days of retro gaming. This is a boomer-shooter, after all, so it is a welcome addition to be able to play around with the settings.

In addition to the plethora of visual settings at your disposal, you can change head-bobbing and sensitivity on each axis for camera control, to name a few. Project Downfall is highly accessible and provides the player with a wealth of options for their preferred way of play.

As atmospheric as the setting can be in Project Downfall, the soundtrack can be just as atmospheric, if not more! The game features synth waves and electronic music to add an extra enjoyable layer of depth to the neon-drenched world of the game. The songs are as hard-hitting to the enemies as you are and really enhanced my play sessions! The music was composed by Roland Redwood, who also composed the score of Sinless, MGP Studio's last release before this title.

Electronic music tonally fits the cyberpunk world, as it sounds like it is from the future. The soundtrack is certainly a stand-out feature in the game. The replay value is high in Project Downfall. In only a couple of hours, you can complete one of the endings, assuming you aren’t dying over and over like I was.

Project Downfall, Review, XBSX, Gameplay, Screenshots, John Wick, NoobFeed

Project Downfall features twelve different endings! The fast pickup and play nature of the game lends itself to creating a game that is addictive and fun. After each death, you can get back into it with little to no loading time. For $19.99, that is an amazing price for the content offered here. You can easily spend dozens of hours just trying to get the best rank on each level, cycling through different weapons, and attempting to get through each of Project Downfall's twelve endings!

Not to mention, Project Downfall's catchy electronic soundtrack and the eye-catching retro visuals are the cherry on top. Save for the pills mechanic, it is almost a one-to-one clone of Hotline Miami and does little to set itself apart. That doesn’t necessarily mean it's a bad thing; it's just a tad uncreative. I look forward to seeing all that MGP Studios and Solid9 Studio can put out in the future.

Michael Nicolosi (@ChipmunksMikey)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, XBSX, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher(s): MGP Studios, REDDEERGAMES SP. Z O.O.
Developer(s): MGP Studios, Solid9 Studio
Genres: First-Person Shooter
Themes: Cyberpunk, Boomer Shooter, Arcade
Release Date: 2024-02-02

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