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Jun 19, 2023

Trepang2 Review

Lights Off
2 Mediocre
Retails for: $29.99
We Recommend: $11.99
  • Developer: Trepang Studios
  • Publisher: Team17
  • Genre: Action
  • Released: Jun 21, 2023
  • Platform: Windows
  • Reviewed: Windows

No, you didn’t miss out on Trepang1 – at least, not in the way you think. The first game from this studio was a platformer about a sea cucumber, which is what “trepang” roughly translates to. So in coming to Trepang2 , there’s no primer necessary to get prepared for what this first-person shooter is about. At its core, this is meant to be an homage to the shooters from the mid-2000s, most notably F.E.A.R. . However, Trepang2 is a game that never manages to capture the same magic from this era in any meaningful way. Trepang Studios certainly tried, but completely missed the target at making Trepang2 even remotely worth playing.

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The story to Trepang2 is as ham-fisted as it gets: You play as a super soldier named “Subject 106” who escapes custody with a handful of guns and a blank memory. Where it goes from here and all the way to the game’s end credits is complete nonsense, and not even in a way where you suspend your disbelief for. It’s a game I thought wasn’t gonna try its hand at action meets horror, but the second mission is where it introduces you to that, and does so in the worst way possible. There’s nothing less fun than fighting zombies that explode upon death, and this is the first type of supernatural enemy you fight. It’s a terrible introduction, only surpassed by the terrible boss mechanics that end each level. The game does have some decent, but not always great checkpoints that had you repeating areas you probably shouldn’t have had to. F.E.A.R. had quick saves and manual saves, not having them here feels like a mistake. Everything across the five mission campaign is said with a gusto like this really means something, but in reality the motivation is off and nothing’s been earned. The campaign feels like a complete afterthought to the gunplay, or at worst is just made by inexperienced developers. Either way, the campaign is not worth playing as it’s missing the elements that they’re trying so hard to emulate.

In the four or so hours it takes to go through the campaign, you’ll have some options available to you. As you progress the main story, there will be side missions you can embark on. Unfortunately, this are of the same poor quality of campaign. Here you’re just dropped off at some facility to hack multiple computers, and defend yourself from waves of enemies until you get them all and have to extract. To call these side missions is far too generous what they are, and another aspect of the game not worth the effort. Every mission you start must be accessed at a table inside the secret base you’re at, and I simply don’t know why it exists in this way. It’s not immersive or satisfying because you have to run from one end to the other, flip a switch for an airlock, just to board a helicopter. It’s just annoying, and unnecessary – though that can be said for the whole game.

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If nothing else, the combat is the best part of this game. The artificial intelligence of the enemies is not all that great, and not anywhere on the level of the game it is so clearly inspired by. Instead, they are average at best, and even on higher difficulties it doesn’t feel like you’re engaged with anything I would call “smart”. You’ll run, jump, and slide tackle riot shielded enemies to great effect. After wearing down an enemy, you can take them as a human shield to soak up damage, throw, or outright kill when you’re done with them. Sadly, there’s no lean mechanics to utilize like F.E.A.R. would let you do, but there is lots of destructible objects to shoot like it’s the lobby scene of “The Matrix”. You have a standard set of weapons to use from pistols to shotguns to SMGs and assault rifles. While the arsenal isn’t surprising, a power-up that lets you dual-wield them makes these enemies extremely squishy when you’re done with them. The enemies you encounter across all modes get tougher with wearing more armor, which is along the lines of what you’d expect, but also not exciting. The trick will always be to focus on popping their helmet off and killing them via consistent headshots that always ends up being satisfying.

You are given two powers to utilize in conjunction with your movements. The first of which is a cloak which you can use to hide from enemies to assess your situation, and reposition. Though you’ll mostly use it in the half-ass stealth mission the game puts you in, and trying to apply this anywhere else is met with enemies that detect you immediately. The other power lets you slow down time, and this is an invaluable skill to master as you need to slow down time to pop heads, and then exit it so it can recharge as soon as possible. It’s also great to use this as a means to showcase and appreciate your brutality on offer.

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The game’s saving grace is the combat simulation missions, essentially a way to test your skills and weapons in arenas based on or from the campaign missions in addition to others. You’ll be placed on a map at your chosen difficulty and have to fight 20 waves of enemies, all while earning money that can be spent on new weapons, grenades, or armor to keep you going. Ultimately it’s fine, and you can tear things up, but it’s also kind of boring as it goes on for a bit too long. I say it’s the game’s saving grace because the shooting is the best part of the game, and the main and side missions are surrounding by too much garbage to enjoy fully.

Ammo is not usually a concern in any of the game’s modes, but it feels the most frenetic and frantic when you’re swapping weapons often. When a gun runs out of ammo, I like to just swap out with something else. It’s the closest thing to feeling like John Wick as you manage multiple weapons and limited resources. There’s even a cheat dedicated to this, where you can’t reload weapons, though that’s something not accessible until after you beat the campaign. There’s fun to be had in Trepang2 , but you often have to find it or make it yourself.

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As you work through the game’s levels at various difficulties, you’ll unlock new camouflage for your character to equip. My favorite is (and easiest to get) is a whole pizza suit that looks equally hilarious and great in motion. Another big part of the game, is the unlockable cheats that are accessed from the main menu. This in it of itself is a nice throwback considering most games don’t have them now, or is included and disables achievements. If you manage to find all the collectibles through out the main story, you’ll be able to activate an alternate ending, but isn’t something you should try too hard for.

Many times the game bugged out on simple things like trying to skip a cutscene I’d already seen. In these cases, I’d have to replay the whole section and have to rewatch the cutscene, other times it would be bugged out anyway and I had to restart the level. Sometimes guns would be floating in midair. Then there were times that the scripting broke, not unlocking a door or triggering the next section after clearing the room. The issues I had with the game were generally pretty minor, but negatively impacted my experience nonetheless.

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If there’s anything nice I can say about the game, is that it doesn’t have any launch day issues around the graphics or visuals. There’s no texture pop-in, shader compilation time, stuttering, or anything along those lines that have plagued other launches this year. Now it doesn’t use any of those advanced techniques, it does run smooth and really well on the Unreal Engine 4. Though it does suffer through some issues relating to the engine where lighting for rooms and laser sights are poor and hard to see. It also loads incredibly fast, from menu to game on my SSD, I’m there within five seconds. So all that to say, this is a well-optimized game that seems to be a rarity these days.

My PC Specs:

– Microsoft Windows 11 Pro
– Intel Core i9 13900K @ 5.8GHz
– ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4080 16GB GDDR6X
– WD_BLACK SN850X M.2 (4 TB)
– LG UltraGear 34GP950B-G (21:9 Ultrawide @ 3440×1440)

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Trepang2 is not as good as it wants to be, or as anyone would be led to believe. Trepang Studios certainly tried emulating Monolith’s epic first-person shooter, and the gunplay certainly comes close to that, but they failed miserably at nearly everything else. This is a terrifically gory game, and it’s great coating rooms in strawberry jam each and every time, but there’s a lot of bad to get through before seeing the good. Trepang2 has only a few redeeming qualities, but even then those have been done better in other games. It’s sad that Trepang2 is a pale imitation of F.E.A.R. in every way, and is a completely forgettable experience I can’t recommend even a little.

A Steam code was provided in advance by the publisher for review purposes