Second Hand: Frankie's Revenge is a co-op, top down action game that combines elements of twin stick shooters and beat-em-ups into a charming blend with an engaging customization system and a surprising amount of depth. As an early access game, content is somewhat sparse for now, but there is enough here to suggest promising things to come.
First time developers Rikodu, based in Transylvania, have created a visual style for the game best described as "Slapstick Wall-E"; you play as a sort-of junkyard robot cobbled together from various appliance and donning a wide variety of weapons from chainsaws to glue guns, weapons used to great effect as you slice and dice your way through hordes of aggressive robots, completing objectives and eventually escaping each level via jet pack. It's a game best played with friends and one that just may scratch your itch for wanton robo-destruction.
Custom Robo Meets Smash TV
The main draw of Frankie's Revenge is the customization options that allow you to build your Frankie with weapons, abilities, and stats to your own specifications, and, if you have a couple of buddies to play with, build interesting and thoughtful team compositions.
Frankie has 5 slots and 3-5 options for each slot. Your head supplies your active ability, each hand is a weapon, your body dictates you health and energy values, and your legs determine the quality of your mobility as well as your movement ability.
The default head is an adorable disco-ball wearing shutter shades and headphones and has an active ability that stuns nearby enemies, forcing them to dance in place for four seconds à la Ratchet and Clank. As you progress through the game you'll unlock other heads, such as the Shellboy that temporarily turns you into a high powered mortar.
Weapons work together in a simple but elegant way that will be familiar to Diablo 3 players: your main hand weapon generates energy, filling your energy bar over time, and your second hand weapon consumes energy, depleting your energy bar. It is necessary to balance the use of your weak main weapon attacks with your powerful, status effect inducing off-hand attacks. These two slots represent the widest set of loadout options in the game and will form the basis for your build strategy as you progress.
Progression Really Opens Things Up
You won't have many options at the start, by default you will be using a cutlass in your main hand that does three quick attacks and a baseball bat in your second hand that has a high chance to daze your enemies. As you complete mission you will level up, unlocking new items you can equip after every level.
Currently, there is one full campaign consisting of six levels and a boss. There is a second campaign of six levels, but the boss is not yet available. The mission screen indicates that a 3rd campaign is coming soon. With at least 18 levels, three boss fights, and four difficulty settings for each there is plenty of game here to get you leveled up and everything unlocked.
You'll get a good amount of the weapons unlocked within the first campaign, and that's when you can really start to see some interesting compositions come together. We had a lot of success with a tank-support composition: one person used the glue gun and tennis ball launcher to slow the enemies down, attack them at range, and provide healing to the team, while person used the chain saw and baseball bat to inflict massive damage to the slowed enemies, staying relatively immobile so that the glue gunner could provide lots of healing.
The Boss Fight Really Shines
While the individual missions have a bit of variety, they tend to wear thin by the end of each level. The objectives are pretty repetitive and the enemies types are minimal. One mission in particular that involves riding an elevator up and stopping at each floor to plant explosive charges started to become a real chore.
Any modicum of restlessness entirely melted away during the boss fight with Juicy Joe, the culmination of the first campaign. The boss had patterns, the fight had multiple stages, there were optional mechanics that effected the battlefield, it was an impressive sequence that kept us on our toes from beginning to end.
Juicy Joe is a lot big and more formidable than the 3-4 enemy types you will have encountered up to this point. Joe charges forward, unleashing a long range flame thrower attack that will absolutely decimate you if you don't use your speed boost to dodge it. He will retreat, become immune, summon aids, and create damage areas on the battlefield until you destroy the vats of poison on either side of him.
Eventually, once enough damage has been done to Juicy Joe, his flame thrower will break and he will produce a spinning saw on his arm. His attack pattern changes and you have to learn and adapt quickly to defeat him.
It was a thrilling boss fight that forces you to consider positioning, manage health, and plan your build. If you are playing with friends, you can, for example, designate some one the healer, some one fast to clear minion spawns, and someone tanky to aggro the boss. Its a cool fight with shades of raids and enough thoughtful design to inspire hope for future boss experiences.
A Fun Bot Ready For Its Next Upgrade
Though you will need to contend with some early access growing pains (like getting stuck on geo or clipping through the map), overall Second Hand: Frankie's Revenge is a fun multiplayer experience that offers a surprising amount of depth on customization and at least one really exciting boss fight.
The game is available on Steam for $13.49, currently 15% off until July 10th. The next boss fight, Le Kraque, will be available to battle within the next week.