SPRAWL is a retro-style hardcore FPS available now on Steam and the Epic Games store. It was developed by MAETH and published by Rogue Games, Inc (Dust & Neon, Homebody). If you’re looking for a fast-paced parkour shooter with bullet-time and a variety of weaponry, this may be the next one for you.
DOOM + Ghostrunner = SPRAWL
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very good at parkour games such as Ghostrunner or Mirror’s Edge. I can do simple jumping puzzles in most games. But running and gunning while traversing walls is completely beyond my ability most of the time! I wasn’t sure how things were going to play out for me in SPRAWL. Thankfully after lowering the difficulty (only from Normal to Easy) I was able to get more of a handle on the mechanics without dying repeatedly. What about you, reader? What game(s) have you encountered where the mechanics feel overwhelming? Let me know after the review below!
SPRAWL is a retro-style, hardcore FPS set in a dystopian cyberpunk city. You play as a super soldier on the wrong end of the government’s guns while a mysterious voice tries to lead you to safety. Running, jumping, sliding, and gunning your way through the megalopolis will test your timing and accuracy.
Players earn new weapons in SPRAWL as they progress through the levels. As shown in the screenshot above, your current weapon has a max capacity of ammo (bottom number) and current available ammo (upper number). Ammo is only found from pickups and reloading is not an option. I found that this caused some unnecessary button-mashing on my part, as I’m a reload junkie. I am hard-wired to reload after every encounter and it is a hard habit to break! Thankfully the ammo pickups are easy to find (at least on easy mode) so there was maybe only once or twice where I was completely out of everything.
SPRAWL has two main features that seem to really drive the gameplay. The first is the parkour focus. Getting around requires a lot of quick movements to traverse walls across gaps or get vertical to reach new areas. I don’t spend much time in these types of games so it was quite a challenge for me to really grasp the mechanics. The game is forgiving enough though to only really reset you to where you fell off rather than having to start a level all over.
The second main mechanic in SPRAWL is definitely the bullet-time mechanic. The player uses adrenaline to activate slow motion, which allows for more precise aiming. Hitting key points of an enemy (usually either headshots or exploding a backpack) results in putting them down more quickly. Though it didn’t seem overly difficult to hit them where it hurts most, the bullet-time mechanic definitely adds a nice feel to encounters. Except when you run out mid-fight and have to run away! You restore adrenaline from pick-ups that drop from enemies as well as randomly found.
Graphics & Audio
Just a glance at SPRAWL and you can see the classic FPS styling. Also though, it feels a lot smoother and cleaner than say original Doom or Quake. But honestly, if you picture either of those games with parkour thrown in, it would be fairly accurate. I like how clean the UI is as well, as some games try to make things retro but then make the UI very hard on the eyes.
SPRAWL has a pretty driving soundtrack as well. The beats keep you in the moment and on the move. Effects such as kills and explosions are also suitable to the style and genre. Nothing in this regard seems to be out of place or overbearing. Just how I like it.
Here is where I feel SPRAWL is lacking. The story runs only about six to eight hours in total. Unless you’re opting to play through again at each difficulty or grab some achievements you somehow didn’t manage along the way (most seem to be just for playing the game), you won’t spend much time with it. Unless there’s an open exploration mode hidden somewhere that I haven’t seen it’s a short play.
Overall, I will say that SPRAWL is an enjoyable game. If you can manage the mechanics. It just seems to lack the longevity you’d hope for to get the most out of it.
I’d have to give it the Thumb Culture Silver Award. With a bit more content it could easily be gold.
If you enjoy this review, check out my other reviews here.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.