Our Service Is Safe, Easy. Door Kickers: Action Squad Review

Action Squad gameplay

Scary thing, these spin-offs of yours. Just when you blink, your favorite game is already spinning off into romances on the side, flirting with new heroes, plots, genres, and who knows what else. Not that I’ve ever been a fan of it. Door Kickers, but as soon as I left it unattended for a year or two, what was once a serious tactical strategy mutated beyond recognition. More precisely, it turned into a crazy side-scroller, the creators of which, apparently, wanted to confess their love for Broforce first and then, if possible, create something more interactive.

The name of this creation is Door Kickers: Action Squad. In it, you will take on the role of a brave special forces soldier (or two, if you’re playing with a friend) and make a lot of noise on dozens of flat levels, shooting pixelated terrorists, rescuing sprite hostages, and defusing two-dimensional bombs. Police routine and all the accompanying romance, in a word.

Oh, and of course, you can also kick doors with a powerful kick, why not live up to the name.

As is customary for the arcade tribe, it is all presented with a decent dose of humor. Enemies, like characters straight out of 80s movie villains, have deliberately stern voiceovers, donuts as secrets, and stylish slow-motion takedowns in the best traditions of Call of Duty – they joke about it here and there. More often, though, without jokes, but I have nothing against a couple of silly jokes. It lightens the mood, and that’s fine.

Action Squad

The spin-off from Door Kickers itself tried to adopt, if I may say so, the tactical aspect. So, here you have a choice of five operatives with unique abilities: one walks with a hefty shield, another scans rooms with a camera, and the third is an FBI agent who moves exclusively by rolls and exudes coolness with his mere presence – the team is quite colorful and diverse. They all have an impressive arsenal and their own perk tree, where for each successful operation you can get an increase in shooting speed or life bar durability.

However, it was not able to fit this into the action-packed Action Squad. No matter how much she tried to emphasize the variety of classes and the importance of using gadgets, the actual gameplay proves the opposite: in 95% of cases, it is enough to just go in and shoot everything that moves. Bullets hurt, enemies die quickly, and nothing else is needed. Every time you try to forcefully involve all these lockpicks, flashbangs, and other explosive devices, it either turns out much worse or the same, only several times longer.

The remaining 5% are situations where you literally have to approach the shootout from the other end of the Nonlinear Level™ so that you are not overwhelmed by the reinforcements pouring in from all the rooms. It’s also a kind of tactical challenge, one might assume, but still, you want something more. Utilizing the strengths and weaknesses of the characters, cooperative synergy – some reason to pause for a second and come up with at least a rough plan of action. Unfortunately, the game presents you with such banal problems that there is no reason to complicate their solution.

Intense action with code-breaking
Climbing ladders for tactical advantage

And damn it, really. If Action Squad were a decent side-scroller, one could forgive the unnecessary strategic elements and dispense arcade justice for their own pleasure. In the first hour, to be fair, that’s what you do – luckily the tasks vary, the locations expand in width and height, and new weapons are regularly unlocked on the equipment screen.

However, it quickly becomes apparent that there is no colossal difference between big levels and small ones, just as there is no difference between rescuing hostages and arresting drug barons. Because you are already doing the nth mission in a row, only doing what, excuse me, kicking doors and holding down the fire button until they stop responding from the other end.

In a strictly shooter sense, the game hasn’t strayed far from the glorious days of browser trinkets on what was then Macromedia Flash. You can’t even aim – shooting strictly happens along the horizontal line, so if the enemy is right above you, you’ll have to jump off the stairs and try not to expose your head to a stray bullet. The developers justify themselves by saying that they tailored the controls for gamepads, but was it worth abolishing such a significant mechanic for that, the question remains open.

Although, honestly, I don’t quite understand what prevented them from adding aiming to the second stick. We even have a whole genre named after it, you know.

Action Squad

No one can withstand the deadly duo in action – against a shield and a shotgun.

The technical execution only adds fuel to the fire. Despite the project being in early access for a long time, there are still plenty of bugs in it – including critical ones. Our cooperative adventures, for example, would always end whenever my comrade tried to stab an enemy, a barrel, a door, or anything within reach. Moreover, the issue appeared at around level twenty and spread throughout the entire game, triggering a spontaneous brainstorming session to find the problem.

Based on the latest results, it became clear that nothing was clear. The symptoms persisted after restarting the computer, reinstalling the game, changing the language, resolution, and host, selecting different characters, trying different equipment, and even rolling back the upgrades – until suddenly everything just worked. Usually, hunting down software defects doesn’t bring much pleasure, but this was perhaps the most interesting and challenging puzzle of the evening.

Lone operative in high-stakes action

I swear, it’s better to buy the original Door Kickers. I have warm memories of it not only because it was one of the first games that the “ProGamer” magazine gave me, a clueless intern, to review, but also because of its ability to present complex things simply. It managed the impossible: to take the best elements of old-school tactics like Rainbow Six 3 and SWAT and squeeze them into a light indie-strategy shell, where you can get the hang of it in just a few minutes. If, like me, you lack the patience to figure out the intricacies of more serious games, you won’t find a better alternative. By the way, it also has cooperative mode.

The current guest, on the other hand, is a completely different story. The intention to make something light and fun on a tactical basis doesn’t raise any special questions, unlike how all this joy is implemented. The developers have gone so far with simplifications that playing Door Kickers: Action Squad becomes deadly boring already in the second hour.

Door Kickers: Action Squad
Action, Co-op, Simulation
Killhouse Games
Killhouse Games, PixelShard
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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