Platinum Games blends its superlative knack for character action with top-tier Transformers nostalgia, producing a wholly absorbing throwback to the 1980s.
In recent years, Platinum Games has become the go-to studio for character action games. While the genre might not seem like the most fitting adaptation of the popular 1980’s cartoon series, Transformers: Devastation is a must-play for anyone who’s a fan of the studio or the franchise itself.
It’s worth noting at this time that Devastation is based on the original Transformers, often referred to as G1 by fans, and therefore anyone looking for a cameo from Shia LaBeouf will be disappointed. That said, any who treasured the series back in its earliest days will thoroughly enjoy the nostaglia.
From the graphical stylization, to the familiar voices throughout the cast, to the terrific soundtrack by Vince DiCola, this is a love letter to longtime fans of the series. However, the gameplay lurking beneath the surface of this 1980’s throwback make this more than just a look back into the past for the Transformers faithful.
A taut combat system that borrows liberally from the studio’s other releases keeps things moving at a brisk pace. The overall gist will be familiar to anyone who’s spent some time with the genre; there are combos to remember, dodges to avoid enemy attacks, and a liberal sprinkling of special moves and abilities.
New additions like the ability to use ranged weapons during melee combat flesh things out nicely, but this is a tried-and-tested combat system. It’s easy to understand, but offers a pleasing amount of depth for anyone looking to really master it.
The only issue with that depth is that there’s not a great deal of game for it to play out over. Devastation is a relatively short game, and over the course of its short running time there’s not a great deal of variation in gameplay or setting.
While this is undoubtedly a short game, it’s one that bears replaying over and over again. Completing Transformers: Devastation once is enough to familiarize yourself with what’s going on — particularly after choosing the kid-friendly easy mode — but everything after that holds the real meat. An intriguing loot system, several different playable characters, and a host of upgrades are all designed to make subsequent playthroughs more enjoyable. However, it’s the feel of the game that will keep players coming back for more.
The taut combat system contributes a great deal to this, with every encounter being graded shortly after the battle ends. Even for someone who isn’t typically a high-score gamer, there will certainly be moments here that beg to be replayed in search of a better score. Once the combat system sets its hooks, it’s difficult to wriggle free.
However, the controls will likely be enough to keep any Transformers fan invested in the experience. Transforming from robot to vehicle is well realized and designed, offering a level of flexibility that players might not expect a character action game to possess. Players can quickly switch from vehicle to robot form with the press of the button, all while preserving their momentum. Tiny details like this can be found throughout game, making even relatively mundane sections very engaging.
All this being said, Devastation isn’t just an ’80s throwback in the character designs that it uses. Higher difficulty levels can get punishing, and the focus on core gameplay mechanics might put off some players. It’s a rewarding experience for anyone who can get into the groove, but the combat and the franchise are the game’s two biggest selling points. If neither appeals, there won’t be all that much to enjoy here.
Transformers: Devastation is available now for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC. Game Rant played the Xbox One version for this review.