Trepang2 Review – Don’t F.E.A.R. the Reaper
Developed by Trepang Studios
Published by Team17
Available on PC
Trepang2 is an action horror FPS that plays like a spiritual successor to the F.E.A.R. series. It’s probably worth rewriting that opener in all caps, because being an unofficial sequel to Monolith’s acclaimed shooter is basically all you need to know about Trepang2. If you liked that game, you’ll like this one. If you didn’t, you won’t. There: job done. Let’s all clock off early and go to the pub.
Still here? Okay, let’s try to be a bit more thorough about this. Set in a near-future of highly militarised business conglomerates, Trepang2 puts you in the boots of Subject 106, a faceless, voiceless super soldier tasked with destroying the nefarious Horizon Corporation and its legion of heavily armed goons. If F.E.A.R. was basically a mashup of The Ring and the lobby scene from The Matrix, then Trepang2 is best described as a mashup of F.E.A.R. and contemporary internet horror.
The game’s core is its combat. As well as being able to dash and slide around with the speed of the Doom Marine, Subject 106 comes with an active camouflage cloak that renders him invisible and a ‘focus’ ability that grants a slo-mo state for short periods. Both are controlled by separate meters, though the latter must be refilled by killing enemies. Annoyingly, neither’s capacity can be upgraded, and I often found the limit a bit stingy.
But get past this minor gripe and Trepang2 gives you a true spectacle of carnage. As strange as it sounds for a game where you can bunny hop across a room dual-wielding grenade launchers, there’s a weightiness and physicality to the deafening, hectic chaos of Trepang2’s violence. Guns aren’t just loud but LOUD, roaring in the close confines of each encounter as explosions and the shouts of soldiers fill the air around you. Human-type enemies are dynamic and will continually try to outflank you. Much of the scenery is destructible, so at any one point, the screen will be filled with flying wall plaster, splintering debris, blood, and the screams of the dying. It’s clear that this moment-to-moment action got the lion’s share of the dev’s attention, and on that front, their efforts paid off.
Broadly, too, the wider campaign is surprisingly well put together. Having played a lot of indie boomer shooters recently, I’ll admit I didn’t have particularly high hopes going into the game’s story. What I was expecting was a bunch of combat arenas strung together by some text screens and called a narrative mode. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Trepang2 has a proper (if rather predictable) story, replete with cinematics, boss fights and a few supporting characters. Each level handles its gameplay peaks and troughs competently, from an intro sequence that has you escaping a secure facility in handcuffs to a section focused on investigating a hidden lab right out of an SCP wiki.
That’s not to say there aren’t places where the small dev team’s limitations show. Characters all wear gas masks, conveniently negating the need for facial animations. A few of the so-called ‘side missions’ are just challenge modes with some extra dialogue. The HQ of the organization you work for is practically devoid of life, and could really have done with a few random NPCs, even if they were just sitting tapping away at computer screens. Even the voice in your mic giving you orders isn’t given so much as a HUD portrait, much less a character model. For every high point in the campaign, there are also a few glaringly less polished areas, like a tedious zombie encounter in the second chapter.
But shortfalls like this are made up for by a kind of amateur exuberance you just wouldn’t get from a higher-budget title. The game unabashedly delves into Creepypasta horror in a manner more mainstream games would probably be ashamed to and manages to do so whilst coming across as the enthusiasm of a true indie studio rather than a ham-fisted attempt at cynical click-baiting. One mission has a pretty effective sequence involving The Backrooms, for example, and you can almost hear the moment the devs grinned at one another and said ‘why the hell not?’ when they put it in.
Trepang2 doesn’t revolutionize the FPS genre, but nor does it need to. With a campaign that clocks in at 8-12 hours, it sticks around just long enough not to outstay its welcome, delivering a solid combat loop with only a few rough spots around the edges. If the prospect of mowing down cultists with a pair of incendiary shotguns sounds like your thing, then Trepang2 has got you covered… with extreme prejudice.