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Review | Headlander

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By Stan Rezaee

Science fiction of the 1970’s was an era of pop-culture defined by the fears of nuclear war, the distrust brought on by Watergate, the experiments of New Hollywood, all while following the success of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Enter the team at Double Fine Productions as they attempt to bring that influence and style into the game, Headlander.The result is a science fiction odyssey takes some of the most iconic work of the era and blends it into a unique gaming experience.

Gamer will first be attracted to Headlander groovy art style but it will be the story and gameplay that will keep them hooked.

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Headlander is set in a world were humanity has uploaded their consciousnesses to a cloud storage system while abandoning their bodies in-favor of robots. This new world is under the rule of Methuselah, an artificial intelligence, that has trapped the human consciousnesses inside the robots and enslaved them.

Players take on the role of the last human but they are just a head in a special helmet and are suffering from amnesia. Using Earl’s guidance, they must find a way to defeat Methuselah and free humanity.

At first the plot may feel similar to the Futurama episode, “A Head in the Polls“, but there is more to story then a head looking for a body. The team has done a masterful job at crafting a story that cleverly blends a sense of humor into a serious story.

The games artistic style really adds to its 70’s influence with retrofuturistic level design and colorful details. Complementing the artistic style is the soundtrack that borrows from many classic films of the era that is mixed with a groovy beat.

While a good story and stunning visuals with a catchy musical score are great, one must not forget about the gameplay setup.

The gameplay setup uses Metroidvania as its foundation while putting more emphasis on puzzle solving over combat. When players have to engage on combat, outwitting the enemy is preferred over basic running and gunning.

Overall this is a title that any gamer will fall in love with the moment they start it up, be it because of the artistic style and story or the old school gameplay. Headlander is just another example of how unique the Indie Game market is.

Headlander is a Metroidvania style game that will not only take players on an out of body and world odyssey but it will serve as an example of the influence that science fiction of the 1970’s has had on pop-culture.

Final Score: 9/10

Disclaimer: Evolve PR provided the game that was used for this review. 

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About Stan Rezaee (389 Articles)
Stan Rezaee is the founder and Editor of 8Bit/Digi. He is a journalist and gamer from the Bay Area who has been writing about the medium for over five years.

3 Comments on Review | Headlander

  1. Painkiller James // August 3, 2016 at 1:10 AM // Reply

    Headlander was a nice reprieve from my recent gaming trends. Lately I’ve been drowning in MOBA’s and YouTube. Double Fine has provided me with something that tickles my aesthetics. Retro Future design, tied with clever dialog and animation.

    Double Fine’s Artistic team is one of the best in the business. The environments are well put together and filled in with detail. The effects on the character are great and brought me to the days I saw all of the covers for Activision games on my Atari 2600. Electrical and Plasma looks great, and the color palate choice was appropriate for the setting. Animation was top notch as well. I laughed out loud when i got to the chess pieces that you will come across.

    The enemies in the game work well, each bot carrying a different weapon, and each functions in the same way, but gives you different results. Single shot, spread, fractal spread, etc. I was not expecting the fractal weapon at all. And strangely, as many shots as you could put into the air, it was not overpowered. You must still play carefully in certain areas, or you will lose the robot body you worked so hard to keep alive.

  2. Headlander is a really fun romp through a 1970’s stylized dystopian future in the genre of a metroidvania, platforming adventure. The player takes on the role of the last surviving human trying to uncover both his/her and humanity’s past while trying to escape the clutches of Methuselah, a robot overlord whose intentions are unknown (though probably evil in some fashion).

  3. Oh, look. Another side-scrolling platformer-with-a-twist.
    How original.

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