By their very nature, shooters are all about violence. Usually, the grim, gritty, blood splattered kind of violence. In recent times, however, there have been a whole spate of games which challenge the genre tropes they fall under. Splatoon is one of these games. It’s a third-person shooter, but it has none of the trappings of the genre – there isn’t a bloodthirsty vigilante out for justice or a war protagonist mowing down hundreds of enemies in service of the cause. Splatoon is a third person shooter that’s all about having fun. It’s innocent, it’s delightful, and it does a lot of interesting things when it comes to combat and traversing the environment in third-person shooters. It doesn’t have the deepest multiplayer mode you will find, but it’s still fun.
The very fact that we’ve come to expect our shooting games to be blood-soaked affairs speaks volumes about the state of the genre. Splatoon, with its gleeful art style, innovative movement and fantastic gameplay mechanics is a much-needed breath of fresh air.
The Back Ground:
The game takes place in Inkopolis, where a race of creatures known as Inklings are in charge. Inklings can morph into humans or squids instantly and value ink above everything else. Inklings set out into battle with paint rollers and squirt guns, not the traditional assault rifle. What do these ink weapons do, you ask? Well, they splatter ink all over the environment and help take down opponents. You can hide in these ink splashes, and even swim in them when the situation demands it. If you run low on ammo during a fight, just morph into a squid and take a nice refreshing dive into the ink splash to refill your kitty.
This unusual ink-based dynamic makes Splatoon’s gameplay unique. Once you’ve gotten the hang of dipping in and out of ink, you’ll find traveling on foot doesn’t quite cut it anymore. And it looks cool, which is important. But the appeal of ink-dipping isn’t just aesthetic – it is a potent battle tactic. You can turn the tide of battle with a perfectly timed transformation. You’ll begin most matches by setting up splashes of ink at different points around the battlefield. However, when the action begins, the battlefield usually turns into a chaotic mess of players jumping in and out of ink splashes to achieve a strategic advantage. You can camp inside an ink splash and spring a delightful surprise on an opponent who’s hunting you. This constant cat-and-mouse dynamic makes Splatoon’s matches tremendously fun and extremely addictive. You’ll be raring to go immediately after you’ve finished a match.
The Game Play:
The game does have a Story mode too. In the campaign, you have to save Inkopolis from the evil Octarians (human-octopus hybrids) who want to get their hands on the Great Zap Fish which is the world’s main source of power. The campaign mode has around thirty levels which you’ll breeze through rather quickly if you’re an experienced FPS player. You can turn to the story mode if you want a break from the multiplayer action. The campaign mixes platforming with the normal shooting action, making it an enjoyable experience in itself. Oh, and you’ll also have to fight five increasingly eccentric bosses on your way to the Great Zap Fish. Before you jump into multiplayer, you would be well served by dipping into the campaign for a bit, because it will familiarize you with the controls. You can use the analog sticks to move your character or use the motion detection feature on the Gamepad and use it along with the regular controls.
You’ll start off your multiplayer journey with Turf Wars where two teams compete to cover the map in ink. You can re-ink ground that has been sprayed by the other team, knock out your opponents and generally unleash colorful chaos across the map. The mode lasts for three minutes, and the action gets as frantic as you can imagine. After you’ve progressed up the ladder and got to level 10, you can play ranked matches. In the ranked match mode, you get to play Splat Zones, which is similar to a regular Capture The Flag mode. Whichever team manages to hold an area for 100 seconds by covering it in ink wins. In the Turf War mode, all players receive experience points. When you’re in the ranked arena, you need to win to get points. The ranked mode assigns a grade to your gameplay, which is then used to create balanced teams.
For a game that relies so heavily on teamwork, playing as a team is surprisingly hard to accomplish. You don’t have a voice-chat feature, for one. You can glance at your GamePad to see an overview of the playing field, but it’s difficult to figure out where your opponents are. You also don’t have an option to view the item loadouts for other players on your team. Before you enter the lobby, you have to choose a primary weapon. Depending upon what weapon you’ve chosen, you’ll be assigned a complete loadout once you enter the lobby. And if, by a twist of fate, everyone on your team has the same weapon loadout, you’ll find it exceedingly difficult to win any matches.
Despite the occasional shortcoming, Splatoon is a really fun game overall. The art style is quirky and the gameplay is based on fun, without the connotations of killing and violence. The mechanics are unique and are executed beautifully. As is the case with most third-person shooters, the meat of the game lies in the multiplayer mode. If you’re tired to grim shooters based in wars from the future or the past, Splatoon is the game for you. It gives you all of the things we love about FPS games – fast-paced action, strategic gameplay and skill-based combat. And it doesn’t have you spilling any blood while you do it.
Game Score: 8.4 Out of 10