Back when I was in secondary school – high school for you Americans – I played a lot of browser games with my friends. My all-time favourite was Boxhead, a simple action game about defending your base against hordes of demons. It was gory, action-packed and filled to the brim with customisation. Its simplicity also happened to be its greatest strength, as it enabled even immature kids like myself to immediately understand its gameplay loop. Madville+ offers a very similar experience, only it is far more polished, replayable and mechanically deep than those browser games could ever hope to be.
“Visually, Madville+ has been masterfully thought out, with the player’s experience at the centrefold of its core philosophy.”
Mushy Jukebox, the developer behind the utterly incredible platformer A Night At The Races, is behind this masterful indie gem. It is no surprise then that Madville+ feels impressively polished both visually and mechanically. Ostensibly, the goal of Madville+ is to hold as long as possible against hordes of excellently designed enemies. You’ll be able to upgrade your weapons and passive abilities in a number of creative ways in between each round, allowing for some truly explosive action to take place.
It won’t take long before your screen is flooded with particle effects, hordes of enemies and giant black ducks – no, seriously. However, despite the chaos unfolding onscreen, Madville+ holds up brilliantly. The clarity of action remains consistent, even if you have shotgun blasts taking up half of the screen. I never felt as if I couldn’t tell where I was going, nor did I feel that enemies would unfairly attack from somewhere off-screen. Visually, Madville+ has been masterfully thought out, with the player’s experience at the centrefold of its core philosophy.
“I genuinely never felt as if any of my playthroughs were the same, even when using the same weapon.”
Madville+’s phenomenal aesthetic is matched by its engrossing combat. Rushing around the various arenas all while blasting aliens with an assortment of weapons is exhilarating. Of course, the two elements complement each other. The visceral explosions of guts make the punchy gunplay feel all the more satisfying. It also helps that enemies leave behind a treasure trove worth of gold, making each kill feel simultaneously rewarding and endlessly moreish.
Before you head into combat, you’ll have to choose your profession. This dictates which guns you’ll have at your disposal, and thus the game’s difficulty. Madville+ does a decent job of making its gameplay replayable through these professions, as each gun feels vastly different to one another. For example, the Bouncer has a shotgun which will tear through enemies without hassle. Ostensibly, this is the easy mode. Conversely, the Scientist has a series of weapons – such as the shield – which encourage risky plays as they don’t deal as much damage from the outset.
It’s exciting to experiment with each weapon and see how best to utilise them. Of course, you can improve each gun with a huge amount of upgradeables. It is initially overwhelming to see just how much customisation there is in Madville+. What’s more impressive, however, is just how much it affects gameplay and how much it makes each playthrough feel radically different. I genuinely never felt as if any of my playthroughs were the same, even when using the same weapon. These upgrades add a lot to Madville+’s already compelling gameplay loop.
“Madville+ is a perfect arena shooter and one that I highly recommend to everyone.”
All of this extremely polished and engrossing gameplay is available for a ridiculously cheap price. Madville+ only costs £2.09, despite being packed with so much content. The profession selection screen even teases future jobs, which only means more content. Sure, Madville+ isn’t a game you’ll binge for hours on end. But it is a game you’ll find yourself coming back to time after time, especially if you’re anything like me.
It’s visually stunning, viscerally gory, exhilaratingly action-packed and endlessly replayable thanks to meaningful customisation options. Beyond some slightly lacklustre sound effects for certain guns – namely the flamethrower – there is nothing negative that I can say about this phenomenal indie gem. Simply put, Madville+ is a perfect arena shooter and one that I highly recommend to everyone.
You can pick up Madville+ right now via Steam for £2.09. There is also a free demo available for those who want to try before they buy.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by the Publisher.