We go hands-on with Tuque Games’ upcoming top-down co-op shooter, Livelock.

I’ve always been a fan of the top-down shooter. The overwhelming, crazed nature of these types of games has always been something I’ve very much enjoyed, especially over the last few years, and as I sat in and played Livelock, Perfect World Entertainment and Tuque Games’ sci-fi co-op shooter, I couldn’t help but feel like I was jumping right back into the saddle of the guns-blazing fun that top-down shooters are well known for, albeit with a tactical edge that favours teamwork more than anything else.

Livelock takes place in a sci-fi setting, first and foremost. You are one of “The Few” remaining Capital Intellects, and, combined with two other teammates, it’s up to you to figure out how to break the cycle of the infinite war between the machines. It’s a fairly basic set up, really, but one that works well in favour of the game’s design and setting. Areas that are filled with browns and dark hues are wonderfully contrasted by the neon bullets and attacks you and your teammates constantly shoot off, trying to survive the unrelenting swarm of machinery. It’s a setting that works incredibly well with the game’s science fiction world, and, combined with the co-operative nature of the game, feels fresh enough to differentiate itself from the rest of the pack.

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You’ll, quite obviously, be doing a lot of shooting and fighting throughout the game, and that’s when the game’s character classes come into play. Assigned with a handful of special abilities and an ultimate, each of the three classes serve a bit of a different purpose as you play. Hex, the assault class, is mobile and fast enough to constantly dodge enemies and take up tactical positions when up against it. Vanguard, the tank, is, as you’d expect, less mobile but is able to take a significant amount of damage and, on the other side of the spectrum, can deal a hell of a lot of damage. Catalyst, who acts as the medic/support class, commands a squad of drones to do her bidding and will often look for the assist rather than a direct kill. She also acts as the squad’s healer, and plays an important role in keeping everyone alive and kicking throughout.

Ultimates and special abilities play an important role in survival, too. They don’t have a very long cooldown timer, allowing you to continue to use them throughout a fight. Ultimates take the longest to regenerate, yet during my time as Hex it only took around 15 seconds before I could use it again. So, when playing with two other players, what you usually see during fights is a lot of explosions, specials, and ultimates going off left, right, and centre. It’s not a bad thing, and it doesn’t distract you from your target too much, either. Instead, the reduced cooldown time allows you to continue to stay on the move and plan your next attack on the enemy, dealing massive amounts of continuous damage.

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Working together seems to be at the very heart of what makes Livelock tick, too. It’s a game that doubles down on thinking tactically rather than going in guns-blazing, which is arguably something twin-stick shooters would prefer you to do. It’s refreshing, although during my playtime I couldn’t help but feel like it was all a bit too easy. That was, until I was told we’d just played the mission on the easiest difficulty. Perhaps when the difficulty notches are turned up a bit, the tactical play and subsequent team chatter will play a much more important role than it did during my hands-on session.

Livelock is looking like a pretty enjoyable twin-stick shooter. It’s a game that, without wildly going in any new directions or breaking any new ground, manages to still feel refreshing and fun to play thanks to its sci-fi setting and the intrigue emanating from its story. Combined with the tactical direction Tuque Games are favouring, it’s definitely caught my attention.

Livelock launches on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on August 2.