A title that defines itself as a roguelike Steampunk adventure but that lacks most of the typical features of a this genre, Kill To Collect was developed and released by Pieces Interactive, the Swedish team that brought us the Magicka series. In a dystopian future, humanity is confined to one last metropolis known as Geoshelter Alpha. The multiple floors that compose this human settlement are inhabited by different social classes, with the scum of society occupying the bottom, where violence and crime are a daily routine. It is here that a group of bounty hunters, simply known as “the hunters” (kudos for the imagination) have begun putting up their skills for hire in an attempt to restore order.
The thin line between challenging and frustrating
With these premises, Kill to Collect sets out to provide players with a story mode, a series of daily challenges and a mission building system that allows you to hunt and defeat the various in-game bosses without having to follow the campaign. There’s a thin red line between offering a challenging experience and one that is outright frustrating, though, and this title’s gameplay and mechanics push it way past it and toward frustration. As one of the four playable characters: a slasher, a brawler, a geeky support, and a bulky gunner each drawing from the tropes typical of dungeon crawling games, you fight your way through multiple stages as you try to reach the end of the level and confront the enemy gang-leader or Boss. Level design plays a huge part in Kill To Collect‘s downfall: advertised as procedurally generated, the stages actually seem to be fetched from a pool of pre-designed ones to the point where you will find yourself attempting to clear the same set of rooms over and over again and to realize you were able to memorize each enemy’s spawn point. Combat, supposedly one the most important parts of this game, also falls short by quickly boiling down to sheer luck, a touch of good timing, and the occasional well placed skill. None of the proposed characters seem to possess the right tools for the job: both melee and ranged attacks turn out to be simply not enough to take down an opponent in a single round, so that scoring a few hits and retreating to a safe distance while you wait for your skills to refresh or for the enemy attacks to dissipate seems to be the preferable strategy, turning what should be quick and adrenaline-fueled matches in a painstaking experience that requires a lot longer than it should, especially when playing solo and considering that the game seems to have been designed with a controller in mind making precise dodging and movement a lot harder to achieve that they look. While not being a looker, Kill To Collect features a “straight out of the 80’s” art style that does a decent job when depicting the oppressive and run-down locations that make up the slums of Geoshelter Alpha by using both 2D and 3D assets, although the contrast between dynamic and static models tends to be too accentuated at times, leading to mild headaches when playing for long. Worthy of mention is also the soundtrack, a good mix of electronic tracks that fit well within the aesthetics and setting of the game.
If the single-player experience can be defined an unpleasant one, the multiplayer does nothing to redeem Kill To Collect‘s reputation. Characters that felt underpowered while soloing the levels will still struggle to complete them when playing with one or two friends and will barely deal enough damage when backed by a full team. Frequent lag resulting in disconnections and the lack of VoIP support or any other type of communication device besides text-based chat also prevent players from properly coordinating their moves, making them look more like four characters playing on the same screen than a team. Progressing through the campaign or completing challenges serves no practical purpose and the only content that can be unlocked that way consists of skins, titles, and collectibles that have no impact on the gaming experience. Kill To Collect could work as a party game, but the unappealing storyline, the clunky gameplay described above and the fact that there are simply better executed couch-coop experiences within the same genre hammer the final nail in this title’s coffin and brand it as yet another purchase destined to gather digital dust in your Steam library.
If you wish to try it yourself, Kill To Collect is currently available on Steam for $14,99 and the original soundtrack can be purchased as a DLC for an additional $4,99, although I’d suggest you to wait until it goes on sale or it gets featured as part of a bigger bundle.