You know the best thing about SWAT teams? The way they kick down doors and unleash hell upon their enemies, blasting each one away with accurate gunshots whilst saving any hostages in the process. Well, if the title didn’t give it away, that’s what you’ll do in Door Kickers: Action Squad – the 2D strategic action-title from the team at KillHouse Games.
On the surface, Door Kickers: Action Squad seems pretty simple with players heading across an assortment of 2D levels where they’ll kick down doors, clear rooms of enemies, and complete any objectives given to them. How do you deal with enemies that have better weapons than you or those that are willing to blow themselves up to take you out though? Or what about the hostages that can get caught in your crossfire if you’re not careful? Of course, sometimes it’ll just be a case of FORGETTING to reload your weapon and finding yourself stuck with no bullets as you try to take out the last enemy in a level – what do you do then? These are the questions that Door Kickers: Action Squad asks, and it helps make it into a satisfyingly strategic experience. All it takes is one mistimed door kick and you’ll quickly find yourself dead, but rather than being frustrating in-game, it makes all of your successes all the more rewarding.
There are a ton of levels to work through in the game, each of which offers one of four different objectives – for the most part it’s just a case of killing enemies, but having missions like rescuing hostages or disarming bombs can change up the way you approach a level. The mechanics of the game are pretty simple with commands like shooting, kicking down doors or interacting with hostages all taking simple button presses, so anyone who has played a typical 2D shooter will feel right at home. As you defeat enemies and rescue hostages, a strategy bar at the top left corner of the screen charges – once it hits certain increments, you’re able to use additional boosts like an increase of HP, an extra life or your character’s special ability. These can be the difference between clearing and failing a level at times, but with certain boosts requiring more consumption than others you really have to pick and choose what you use. As you progress, you’ll face off against tougher enemies and more intricate level layouts too, so your skills are continually tested.
Thankfully, you’re able to level up your characters to improve their skills, so you’re always given a fighting chance. You can choose between multiple classes of SWAT officers that each have their own specialist abilities and weapons to use, whilst the fact you can upgrade their stats and abilities means they’re constantly improving and bringing something new to the table. You can tinker with the gear of each class too, giving them new weapons or equipment (such as bulletproof vests or flash grenades) to even the odds across each level.
Door Kickers: Action Squad is fun to play solo, though the local or online multiplayer co-op mode is where it really shines. Again, it encourages more tactical thought with each player able to use their advantages of their class in different ways to devise the perfect strategy, but just going all out and shooting enemies without a care in the world can be a blast too. Admittedly, it can make the game feel a bit too easy at times, but you’ll be having too much fun together to worry about that.
Door Kickers: Action Squad has a lot going for it, but there is one flaw: a lack of variety. Whilst levels get more intricate and offer different challenges, you are doing a lot of the same things across the game – in fact, you’ll probably see everything it really has to offer within your first thirty minutes playing. It’s not really a bad thing because it doesn’t stop it being fun to play, but there will be moments where you wish there was a little bit more variety on offer.
Door Kickers: Action Squad’s somewhat simple gameplay mechanics are complimented by a real need for strategy, and the blend of the two makes for an utterly satisfying action experience where one wrong move can mean the end. It’s even better in co-op, where players are able to be even more strategic… or just go all guns blazing.
The only real downside is the lack of variety, with everything Door Kickers: Action Squad has to offer seen within the first thirty minutes of playing. Thankfully, the satisfying sense of progress and the abundance of levels on offer ensure that you’ll still be having fun up until you’ve kicked your last door.
Developer: KillHouse Games, PixelShard
Publisher: KillHouse Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC