I had plenty of fun with the demo for the indie shooter, Reaver, but I knew it was special when I tried to load up Ghostwire: Tokyo immediately afterward and found it painfully, glacially slow. Speed isn’t everything, but I found myself craving the unlimited wall jumps and recoil-fueled propulsion of this neon shooter.
The indie boomer shooter wave of recent years shows no signs of slowing down, and Reaver looks to contribute to this mini renaissance with its own brand of fast-paced, movement-heavy FPS action. Reaver owes the most to Arsi “Hakita” Patala’s Ultrakill, but there are some key differences. Reaver is even more arcade-like, with firefights more strictly broken up into discrete arenas, and its weapons adhere to a more rigid “rock-paper-scissors” formula for balance. Reaver also commits more fully to freedom of movement, trading a certain weightiness present in Ultrakill for gleefully unrestricted vertical traversal.
Fellow retro-revival shooter Turbo Overkill made a splash recently with its lightning-fast chainsaw slide, but Reaver focuses its traversal in the opposite direction: its double jump and dash abilities are joined by a ground pound super jump and a wall hop that can be chained into itself infinitely. With additional movement options like a suspiciously Doom Eternal-like shotgun-mounted grappling hook and recoil-based propulsion on the dual SMGs, Reaver ends up being a game best enjoyed flying around the rafters of its cavernous levels.
Those guns really bring the gameplay experience home. The arsenal is undergirded by an organic and easy-to-grasp rock-paper-scissors balancing, with the Deagle-esque magnum being the perfect answer to slow-moving snipers, while the SMGs and shotgun help thin herds of swarming melee enemies and get DPS in against bosses. All the guns have infinite ammo, but Reaver’s Quake-style rocket launcher is balanced by having a slow recharge between volleys of four heavy burst damage missiles. This tool-assisted speedrun by wao_destroyer on YouTube offers a great presentation of the theoretical skill ceiling these guns and movement options offer.
A free demo with four full levels and a horde mode is available now on Steam, while Reaver’s development progress can be followed from its creators’ Twitter and YouTube.