Anger Foot

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Anger Foot


An Amazing Feet

Kicking A Path Through The City

Have you ever played Hotline Miami or watched John Wick and thought, "This is pretty darned cool, but it would be way better if people used their feet more"? I'm guessing not, but developer Free Lives' upcoming bizarre, vibrant, and wonderful game Anger Foot is here to scratch that very particular itch. The full game isn't out for another month from publication, but I was given access to a preview that features plenty of wild, foot-based action, and I'm incredibly curious about how the full game will expand the concepts presented in the few hours of content I was able to experience.

It's not always smart to judge a book by its cover, but in the case of Anger Foot, the simple two-word title is incredibly apt. In a vaguely near-futuristic urban hellscape seemingly inspired by the theoretical offspring of Nickelodeon and a significant acid trip, one man has his prized sneaker collection stolen (via an orchestrated, VTOL-assisted smash-and-grab, nonetheless), and he vows to tear the city's gangs apart to get them back. The story, as expected (to the degree it's present in this preview), is little more than a silly excuse to take the player through a seemingly unending series of levels set around dilapidated buildings, rooftops, and more, quite literally kicking ass the whole way through. However, that isn't to say that the narrative backdrop doesn't serve a purpose. Fast-paced, quick-death shooters and room-clearing games aren't a rarity these days, and the strange, darkly humourous twist on a Saturday morning cartoon world gives the menus, maps, and game mechanics a healthy and welcome dose of personality and "vibe."

These Boots were made for Kicking

The subtly-named Shit City houses all of Anger Foot's action, which is tracked via an album-cover-worthy map (which, yes, is held and flipped through with the unnamed player-character's feet). Each stop is one step closer to reuniting the wonderful and powerful sneaker collection, and every level is a test of reflexes, memorization, and a little dumb luck. Players familiar with other high-difficulty, near-instant-death games like Hotline Miami or even Super Meat Boy will be at home with the general set-up: there are a ton of levels, each one only taking a maximum of a few minutes to get through. The challenge, of course, is dealing with the mutli-sensory onslaught of obstacles along the way. The inhabitants of Shit City are half anthropomorphic animals and half vaguely humanoid beings that look like a young child's Play-Doh creation.

The design contrasts colourful visuals with over-the-top violence, but it also serves an important gameplay function. Different enemy types have vastly different silhouettes and colour profiles, helping the player understand each threat with a glance instead of trying to parse the hectic action. There are only a few enemy types early on - hulking, melee-only crocodilians, pistol-toting humanoids, and riot-shield-wielding pigeons, but as more opponents join their ranks and the action gets even crazier and quicker, parsing what's happening in a room as bullets fly, feet flail, doors shatter, and explosions erupt is satisfying easy.

Toeing The Line Between Simplicity And Depth

The actual second-to-second gameplay is remarkably simple, elevated by creative level design and a sneaker mechanic that facilitates different gameplay approaches and adds a level of decision-making to each puzzle. As far as raw controls, there are only a few: One key shoots guns, one key throws guns, one key jumps, and one key kicks. That's really it - no fancy combos to memorize, no elaborate item-swapping, etc. Feet are king, though. While guns feel relatively necessary with only basic (or no) shoes equipped, kicks instantly kill enemies and send them flying to impact and kill other enemies or even set off chain reactions of explosions and destruction.

Gunplay is straightforward but simultaneously isn't immediately intuitive. While "point and pull the trigger" unsurprisingly rings true, the way ammunition is handled is a little more nuanced than explained. Guns don't have reloadable magazines; they just have the number of bullets they have and shoot until that drops to zero. Moreover, there's no way to pick up more bullets for a gun (by default, anyway - some shows give alternate ways to get ammo). What that means is that it's often the best play to use a weapon and throw it while it still has a few bullets to pick up a new gun from a downed enemy that may have more ammunition. Moreover, players have to throw their current gun, even if it's out of ammo, to pick up a new one (even of the same type). It's not incredibly intuitive or smooth, and it's my only real nitpick in what is otherwise an incredibly smooth game. At a minimum, a button prompt to swap the player's current gun for one on the ground would be better than having to visually parse the floor.

Kicking is much more simple. Kick everything there is to kick, and line them up to take out multiple enemies as often as possible. The diversity in melee combat comes from shoes, each of which bestows a different gameplay benefit. Early examples include a shoe that grants ammo on kick-kills and one that enlarges enemy heads, making headshots easier. Free Lives has already previewed a bundle of kicks that will enable even wilder effects - like anti-gravity and simultaneous combustion - so expect things to get the best kind of weird.

A Challenge That's Not For Everyone

Regardless of quality, some games have broad appeal and are easy to recommend, and others are largely destined to find their audience in a specific niche. Anger Foot is the latter, much like many of its genre kin. Anger Foot is tactical and takes a high level of skill, but it also requires significant, repeated failure. Some levels can be blasted through with reckless abandon, but the more challenging ones require dying over and over again until you memorize what's behind every door, where the explosive barrels are, who needs to be killed first, etc. It is rewarding, but it's also mentally taxing. Even when levels only take a few minutes, having to replay a minute and a half a few dozen times because you keep dying in a tricky room at the end just isn't something some people want to do. It isn't a slight against Anger Foot in the least, it's just important to know what a game is and what a game isn't.

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