First Sip: ANTIFECTOR – Review
In ANTIFECTOR by Startreming games, you control an anti-virus inside a giant virtual computer and are tasked with defending the PC from virus attacks in face paced First Person Shooter action.
The gameplay in ANTIFECTOR is comprised of shooting, jumping and running, you also have optional bombs and if you score high enough on certain modes you can get some additional weaponry choices (pistol and laser sword), probably the easiest comparison to make would be the game Devil Daggers, you are set in a large room which varies on setup for the game modes, the main mode Virtual Arena is a completely empty room in which enemies will spawn randomly from all directions just like Devil Daggers, however the game is more forgiving, you have a health meter as well as an ammo count, both of these are displayed on your primary weapon (a hybrid machine gun/shotgun to begin with), and boxes will appear in the stage that you can touch to collect HP refills or ammo refills, the enemies also spawn a lot slower than Devil Daggers so you can gain your bearings a little before they start to really pile up on you.
ANTIFECTOR, also has levels in each game mode, which are generally counted by enemy wave counts or time survived, in the Virtual Arena a boss will spawn every 25 levels to keep you on your toes, beyond the first boss (Master Trojan), each subsequent boss will be randomised, so you can fight different bosses on level 50 between playthroughs, levels are also fairly short so you can climb to the higher numbers fairly quickly if your aim is true.
Each game mode has differences, the aforementioned Virtual Arena described above, Unprotected System being a small deviation in that the arena has some blocks which can act as cover or obstacles, as well as a larger count of enemies floating at you at the outset, then there is Shared Folders, a mode with a completely different stage set up, a much larger area than the previous modes, Shared Folders also contains gaps between the platforms which you can fall through, and it has randomly appearing boxes that can be attacked by the enemies and should be protected, lastly is Connected Systems, in this mode the area is split into small platforms that are linked by bridges, these bridges will randomly extend and retract which makes planning out a path to take more than pressing a direction, the bridges glow different colours when they are about to change so there is notice, but it can be frustrating as the ammo and health boxes are floating in the middle of where the bridges should be, so sometimes a bridge will retract and cut you off from collecting a much needed health or ammo pack, and if the waves of enemies and shifting bridges weren’t enough to think about, Connected Systems also contains bombs that randomly detonate, this is indicated by a line showing the area of effect, but it still means another route is restricted.
All four game modes are also infinite, there is no end stage, no final boss, they will just keep going until you fail, so the only objective is to try and score as high as you can, each mode will also have a bonus unlockable for achieving certain score targets, which include the additional weapons, maximum HP increase, maximum ammo increase and an upgraded bomb, which would make achieving the target in the other game modes easier, especially the health and ammo increases.
In addition to the four game modes there is also an interactive main hub called Root Folder, where you can check the requirements for the unlockables and activate already unlocked ones, it also acts as a training facility where you can spawn enemies, learn about your weapons primary and alternate shots, the primary being a machine gun that will fire as long as the left mouse button is held and ammo remains, and the alternate shot being a shotgun blast, which fires in one quick burst when the right mouse button is pressed, both shots have their pros and cons as well, with the machine gun firing faster, and using the ammo up gradually, but also doing lower and more specifically focused damage, sometimes bouncing enemies out of the line of fire, whereas the shotgun alt fire is capable of taking out a few enemies at the same time, but the damage is less focused meaning that some enemies might take small or even no damage and the blast carries a significant invisible cooldown before it can be fired again, the cooldown also applies to the machine gun, so when you fire the alt, it will still take half a second or so to fire the machine gun again, which doesn’t sound like much, but in a faced paced shooter it could be the difference between survival and death.
Visually the game is very basic, a lot of blocks and wireframes, although this is built in to the game setting, with you controlling an anti-virus inside what appears to be an older type of PC.
Soundwise everything is pretty nice, the sounds are all in place and effective, the music is a nice synthwave/chiptune sound, which again fits with the setting of being an anti-virus defending an older computer.
Overall the game doesn’t have a wide range of things to offer, but the simplicity of the setting and the difficulty give it a lot of replayability, along with the infinite nature of the game modes, I could see a lot of people trying to compete for high scores when they implement leaderboards, which I’m somewhat surprised to see they haven’t already done (at the time of this review).
In coffee terms, ANTIFECTOR is like shots of espresso, you get a little buzz from doing one, it’s not really lasting and you won’t be able to find any subtle flavours, but because it’s so quick and the buzz is nice you could throw back a few of them when you have a spare moment and then continue your day, sitting down later in the day when you have more time to really savour something more fulfilling.