It’s always a treat when a new release drops straight into the PlayStation Plus Essential monthly games, whilst the fact that I had actively been excited to try out Foamstars made its release that bit more exciting for me. And hey, making any online-focused multiplayer experience available to a big group of players from the get-go is ALWAYS a good idea, especially since it’s a very crowded genre.

Is Foamstars good enough to stand out in the crowd? I think so, though it’ll need regular content drops if it hopes to sustain player interest past its opening few months.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Foamstars is a four-versus-four multiplayer shooter that replaces bullets with… well… foam. The name kind of gives it away, right? The wild antics on the bubbly battlefield will see players blasting their rivals with soapy suds of their team’s colour, with the goal being to deplete their health so they fill up into a bubbly ball. When this happens, you have to physically hit them to defeat them (known here as a ‘chill’), but you’ve got to be fast, because if one of their teammates hits them instead, they’ll recover and re-enter the battle.

You won’t just use your foam to defeat your rivals though, with players able to surf along the foam of their colour to quickly navigate the battlefield. Admittedly, it could be a little bit jarring for my surfing to immediately slow down when entering an opponent’s foam, but it does add an additional tactical nuance to traversal.  You can also use your foam to make cover, sculpt platforms to get the higher ground over your foes, or simply block off an opponent’s pathway, with its versatility ensuring players will have plenty of tricks up their sleeves when dealing with opponents.

The game also embraces a hero shooter-like approach by offering a variety of characters that have different weaponry, abilities, and ultimate abilities (which charge over time) at their disposal. A few of my favourites include the shotgun wielding Agito (who can also summon a shark to roam through the foam as his ultimate ability), The Baristador who is incredibly effective from range and can even call in an airstrike of foam, and Penny Gwyn who has a penguin ally that helps out in battle (that alone automatically makes her the best character in the game). It’s clear that there’s a lot of personality to these characters and they each have their own strengths and weaknesses, but it’s also nice to see Foamstars embrace its sillier side in their design.

“It really does feel different to most other competitive shooters, and, more importantly, the core gameplay loop can be a lot of fun.”

However, whilst the characters themselves are quirky, it’s hard not to find them a little forgettable. It feels like they embrace a bunch of tropes you’d expect of the genre, but without injecting them with stand-out features or unique looks to really make their presence felt on the battlefield. Honestly? I think Square Enix missed a trick by not utilising their existing franchise’s characters in the line-up, especially at launch when its hoping to sustain a strong player base. Whilst the cast of Foamstars are fun to play as and their abilities ensure battles have plenty of satisfyingly silly moments, there are no standout faces like you’d see in the likes of Overwatch or Apex Legends.

Despite this, I still find the game a lot of fun to play. I saw plenty of comparisons to Splatoon leading up to the game’s launch, but Foamstars really does have its own identity, with the coloured foam utilised in a lot of different ways to the ink seen in Nintendo’s popular franchise. I actually prefer it, especially when the screen fills up with foam and chaos ensues. It can make for some really exciting moments, and when you’re playing in a team that are communicating efficiently, there’s plenty of room for strategic bubbly action.

The main multiplayer game mode is Smash the Star, which sees two teams competing to score seven chills. When a team does, the best-performing player for the opposing team is deemed the Star Player, and if you defeat them, you win. It’s an interesting mode that does something different, but I did find the concept could be a little inconsistent. I played too many games where it became too easy to overwhelm the Star Player and win, especially when playing with inexperienced players who didn’t actually attempt to protect them. It might have been nice if there was just a standard team deathmatch-style mode available too, if only to simplify the learning curve for newer players.

Check out some screenshots down below:

There are also two additional modes that rotate in and out of play: Rubber Duck Party and Happy Bath Survival. Rubber Duck Party sees players attempting to lead a DJ rubber duck (seriously) to their goal by blasting it with foam and leaving a foam path of your colour for it to follow. You can also give it a boost by dancing on the dance platform that accompanies it (again, seriously). It might sound utterly bizarre, and that’s because it is – however, it’s also an enjoyable game mode that takes a bit longer to complete, but that also has a lot more tension than the other modes. Happy Bath Survival sees the teams of four split into two, with two players battling it out with their rivals in the main arena and two players assisting from above. The assisting players can’t actually chill their rivals, but they can offer assists through their foam and abilities to give those in the arena a tactical edge. It’s genuinely fun to play as both the attackers and the assisters, and whilst it can be a nightmare if you’re stuck in the arena with two very skilled players, it’s the most rewarding mode to play when you do succeed.

Don’t fancy competing against other players? There are also special Missions to complete, which see you battling against AI enemies in horde-like scenarios. It’s a good way to learn your way around the game mechanics and you can also play through them in co-op, but it’s not a particularly extensive mode. It is something I’d like to see fleshed out in the future though, especially since the chaotic gameplay of Foamstars does lend itself well to co-op play.

It’s probably clear by now that Foamstars is a very unique experience, and that’s probably its greatest strength. It really does feel different to most other competitive shooters, and, more importantly, the core gameplay loop can be a lot of fun. Sure, there are areas it can falter and a lot of your enjoyment will rely on having a good team to play with, but I’ve enjoyed my time with the game so far. However, I’ll also admit that after spending around fifteen hours with it, it’s starting to feel a little stale. The game modes are starting to get a bit repetitive, whilst the Season Pass doesn’t really offer much that interests me. If Foamstars is going to maintain a strong player base, it’s going to have to introduce more characters, more modes, and more arenas regularly, otherwise it might suffer the fate of a lot of other multiplayer titles and fall into obscurity.

Foamstars Review

Foamstars is a unique and fun shooter that has some really cool ideas, but it’ll need to see regular content updates if it hopes to survive in the busy world of multiplayer shooters. Having it release on PlayStation Plus Essential instantly gives it a pretty strong player base, but whether or not it’ll sustain that will come down to how often we see new game modes, characters, and arenas. And sure, what’s on offer can be a ton of fun (especially when playing with a good team), but it needs a more extensive offering of content if the game hopes to stick around for the long-term.

Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4