Receiver Review Title Screen

Receiver Review

Gun game.

Receiver Review
Release Date
April 29, 2013
Wolfire Games

The wonderful thing about Steam Greenlight is that it gives a game with even the most obscure premise an opportunity to reach the masses. Such is the case of Receiver, a first-person shooter built over the span of seven days for a FPS Challenge. While it teeters on being more of a tech demo than a game, it still somehow lures you in as you begin to unravel the mysteries of its bizarre world. One thing is for certain, you haven’t played a shooter quite like this before.

With no introduction, I found myself standing in a strange, futuristic landscape with only a gun and my health. While the graphics are utilitarian at best, the electronica music sets the mood as I take my first few steps into this unknown world. I find some ammunition on the ground and grab it, all the while unsure of what to make of the situation. As I move forward through a doorway and into a courtyard, I hear an audible beep. I look above to see a shock drone coming towards me full throttle, so I raise my revolver and recklessly fire a few shots in the direction of the drone. After only 3 shots, the revolver simply clicks, indicating that I’m out of ammo and out of luck. Drone – 1, Alex – 0.

I now realize that Receiver is a game of attrition. It’s a game about staying alive at all costs, as there are no savepoints and death results in a permanent loss of progress. In order to stay alive, you must do three things. The first is tread lightly and always be cautious when moving room to room. The second is conserve every round of ammunition you have, as every bullet is truly invaluable. Finally, the most important element to your survival in Receiver is to learn how to use your damn gun.

Receiver Review - My Revolver
While the full-auto Glock might be the “best” weapon, this revolver was my favorite.

The most innovative aspect of Receiver’s gameplay is the manner in which the weaponry is utilized. You don’t just point, fire, and reload. You have to learn the functional mechanics of each of the three weapons currently in the game and learn how to use them under pressure properly. The gun handling mechanics are excellent and are easily the highlight of the game. Most will find the gun mechanics worth the price of admission alone, as they are a fantastic change of pace from traditional shooters you see on store shelves. What’s fascinating is that in Receiver, the source of excitement and “action” is often not the shooting sequences themselves, but rather the process of checking your gun and getting it ready for the next encounter. Manually pulling the clip out of your Glock and loading each round into the magazine one by one, then loading it back into the gun before pulling back the slide and pushing the toggle to full-auto is simply engrossing. Moreover, this process is slightly different for each of the weapons which aids in keeping the experience fresh and enjoyable for when you have to start over again from the beginning; which you will be doing very frequently because the game is incredibly difficult.

They didn't stand a chance.
They didn’t stand a chance.

Receiver is damn hard. Like, really damn hard. Mastering the controls is a difficult first step in the game, but providing support to you is a brilliant help system that provides visual cues as to what you have to do next with your weapon. What that system cannot help you with is the sheer difficulty of simply surviving. Whether you run out of ammo or get shot in the back by a turret, the game is never making things easy for you. Players who are reckless will never be successful in the game as they will waste their ammo or just get gunned down as they sprint through a room. Every bullet counts, so hitting the turrets and drones in critical components is key if you wish to have enough ammo to survive to the later stages of the game. Also, due to the nature of random generation, you can find yourself doomed from the start by starting with nearly no ammunition at all or worse, simply spawning directly infront of a turret. Situations like this happened more frequently than I would like, as starting the game at a clear disadvantage is always discouraging, especially considering how difficult the game is even when everything is going your way. The occasional bug doesn’t help either, as I found myself stuck between pipes and walls on more than one occasion, which is extremely frustrating when you’re playing a game with permadeath.

While the game is overall very fun, a few more enemy types would have been appreciated. Again, this is the issue I alluded to earlier where the game does feel a bit like a tech demo as opposed to a full game, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing because the tech being demoed is awesome. One thing I have to mention is that I loved the way the story is told through the tapes you find scattered throughout the world. And while voiceover recordings are anything but pristine, that makes the experience feel more authentic.

Finding a hidden tape
Ah, there you are! I’ve been lookin’ for you.

Receiver is very interesting from the standpoint that one could argue that it isn’t necessarily a game, but rather a demonstration of how gun handling mechanics can be utilized to enhance the experience within the first-person shooter genre. It succeeds in this notion, while also providing an enjoyable experience for those looking for a unique and unforgiving challenge. While it isn’t perfect, for the price of a pizza sub at Subway it’s a game that’s definitely worth having in your Steam Library. One can only hope that Wolfire Games takes this fantastic concept and runs with it in a fully-featured future release.

Receiver Review Title Screen
Review Summary
The innovative gun handling mechanics are worth the price alone, and despite several issues, Receiver is a game you might want in your Steam library.
The Good
Fantastic concept.
Gun mechanics are fun, engaging, and unique.
Surprisingly engaging story.
The Bad
Utilitarian presentation.
The odd bug can ruin the fun.
Unforgiving difficulty.

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