Trepang Studios seems to have had one singular goal in mind when developing Trepang2—reimagining the magic of the combat system behind the shooters of early 2000s. While Trepang2 taps into quite a few of the genre’s popular combat ideas, it steers clear of the horror elements, instead giving us an all-out action game where you’re going to be running, sliding, and jumping at enemies as you shoot them down. What we’re here to figure out in this review is if Trepang2 can prove that the gameplay is strong enough to stand on its own, and whether that style of gameplay can hold up in a time where, outside of indie studios, FPS combat has largely shifted away from fast-paced run-and-gun action found in games like Quake and Half-Life to slower gameplay where you careful aim down sights and can die in a couple of seconds.
The answer to all of those questions is a resounding yes. Trepang2 is an incredibly fun game. Sure, the game features a story of some description revolving around a shady, heavily-armed cult and a company that seems to be partaking in some highly unethical science experiments on humans, but all of that is largely unimportant in the greater context of the game. Trepang2 wants you to pick up guns, run-and-gun-and-dropkick your way through its levels and take out some high-value targets. The story, while there, can be quite easily missed, and cutscenes telling you what’s going on are few and far in between. Instead, you’re just going to end up having too much fun actually playing the game to care much about why you’re gunning these people down.
"Trepang2 wants you to pick up guns, run-and-gun-and-dropkick your way through its levels and take out some high-value targets."
Trepang2 kicks things off in an interesting way. You seem to be captive in some sort of secure facility, when all of a sudden, some mysterious folks kill a few guards and destroy the TV you were being forced to watch, allowing you to start trying to escape. Your character doesn’t have any of their memories, aside from the fact that they seem to be a super soldier. You’ll discover other details about the game’s world through text logs that you can pick up along the way, but the storytelling remains rather minimal throughout.
Right off the bat, the tutorial level gives you your two most important abilities aside from guns—Focus and Cloak. Focus lets you slow down time to line up your shots, while Cloak allows you to go lightly invisible as long as you stay away from your enemies’ direct lines of sight. Pair these abilities with even just your basic pistol and the action really begins to ramp up. Since stealth is entirely optional is meant to give you the ability to kick off fights with an ambush or grab a quick breather in the middle of a shootout so you can reposition, the action throughout a mission essentially feels non-stop, punctuated by some moments of peace when you’re just navigating further into the level.
When it comes to options in combat, you have quite a few aside from just shooting at things. You can slide at will, knocking opponents off their feet—this is incredibly useful against enemies with shields. You can also grab stunned enemies to use as human shields, and if you find the right power-up, dual-wield weapons. While the possibilities don’t seem as vast as they should for a game focused on its combat, the simple baseline offers a lot of opportunities to rain down absolute carnage on your targets.
"You can also grab stunned enemies to use as human shields, and if you find the right power-up, dual-wield weapons."
Trepang2 also promotes replayability in a rather interesting way. Along with the game’s light story, you’re also given a list of high-value targets that can only really show up in specific missions, and some on specific difficulty options. If you want to take down the main man behind the cult’s weapons supply, you’re going to have to play the game on a higher difficulty, for example. Interestingly, the game allows you to pick from any of its five difficulty modes right from the beginning, and switch around if you start finding things either too easy or too hectic.
Alongside the combat, the music in Trepang2 also goes incredibly hard. Featuring a largely electronic synthwave-styled soundtrack, Trepang2 will have you headbanging to hard bass drums and grungy synths as you mow down your enemies in slow motion. Outside of combat, the game features an atmospheric soundscape, letting you hear enemy chatter and the missions’ own sounds alongside some light music humming in the background. Needless to say, when it comes to getting in the right state of mind with Trepang2, you’re going to want to keep the music turned all the way up. It’s just that good. It also certainly helps that the sound effects are incredibly punchy, with just about every weapon showing off its stopping power with just its sound design.
The art direction is where the praises for Trepang2 start slowing down. While the game definitely looks good, and some of its levels can offer a surprising amount of variety despite the game largely taking place in hallways and corridors, it tends to suffer quite a bit from visual clutter. For example, early on in the game, you’re told to use your flashlight with care because enemies will be able to make out your position if they see light from your flashlight.
"It tends to suffer quite a bit from visual clutter."
In actual combat, however, you’re going to find the flashlight incredibly important just to try and make out where your targets might be. It’s quite easy to miss enemies just because of the sheer amount of debris and sparks flying around in the middle of an intense shootout, and unless you’re incredibly good at twitch aiming, using Focus becomes borderline mandatory to try and line-up a headshot.
Trepang2 doesn’t really do much to tell you what’s going on around its world aside from descriptions of high-value targets and a few text logs, but the important thing is that the game is so damn fun that you won’t really care about the story. Playing especially on the harder difficulties highlights some clever enemy AI and forces you to use just about every option in your arsenal, and the fact that the game allows you to toss a grenade in slow motion and shoot it in the air to cause a massive explosion should really be all you need to know to learn whether you’ll enjoy Trepang2 or not. Pair this with a fun synth-heavy soundtrack, and a fair bit of emphasis on replayability with its various high-value targets, and you have a shooter that can deliver a pretty good time.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Incredible gunplay; Great enemy AI; Lots of replayability; Great soundtrack.
Visual clutter in intense shootouts; Not much in the way of story.