EPOCH
Gameplay 8
Graphics 9
Sound 7

Mobile titles usually don’t fare very well on PC due to their simplicity or lack of options, but Uppercut Games have done a good job sprucing up EPOCH for its Steam release. The improved visuals and responsive controls make it more than just a quick port and the arcade style gameplay is perfect for killing some time between more in-depth titles. While the campaign can be completed rather quickly, there is plenty of replay value and the endless Arena mode also provides some more longevity.

Gameplay: Third person shooter stripped down to its most basic elements.

Graphics: The Unreal 3 engine is used to provide some nice visuals.

Sound: Decent, but not particularly memorable

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EPOCH

Developer: Uppercut Games Pty Ltd | Publisher: Uppercut Games Pty Ltd | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Action / Indie / Shooter | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Things don’t end very well for humanity when they are caught in the crossfire of warring robots. As EPOCH, a guardian robot tasked with protecting a very important human, you enter this post-apocalyptic world and try to figure out what went wrong and if your human charge is still alive. Standing between you and your goal is an army of angry robots that are determined to stop you dead in your tracks.

EPOCH might appear to be a third person shooter, but it has more in common with light-gun based arcade games of old. Originally a mobile title, the game used a swipe based control method for moving your character between cover points and taking pot shots at enemies before ducking out of sight again. This means that the gameplay revolves entirely around shooting at enemies while making the best use of cover instead of any running around or puzzle solving. It might sound restrictive, but it does provide some intense gunfights without the usual camera and control problems found in some third person shooters.

The game offers a ten level campaign mode set in locations such as a recycling depot, residential complex, military checkpoint, freeway and tunnel before a showdown with a final boss. Along the way you will earn credits to buy new equipment, earn experience to improve the attack and defense bonuses of your robot as well as unlock data intercepts which reveal more about the story. These intercepts can be read between levels and there are much more of them than what can be unlocked in a single playthrough, so fortunately you can replay previously completed locations and unlock harder difficulty settings. Redoing levels or playing on higher difficulty settings also has the benefit of earning you more credits so you can buy better weapons, armor, counters, missile and boosters from the scrap yard. Credits cannot be bought via in app purchases like in the mobile version, but playing on higher difficulty settings rewards you with enough cash to buy the good stuff.

If you tire of the campaign you can jump into the endless “Arena” mode which is all about survival and raking up big kill counts. The PC version of the game has leaderboards so you can see exactly how well you measure up against the other players. The Arena mode also has mini missions such as achieving certain kill streaks, attaining a certain amount of kills without taking cover and more to keep things interesting. You also earn credits and unlock data intercepts while playing the Arena mode. It is a pity that there are only four arenas, compared to the ten campaign levels, but the arena levels allow for some vertical movement as well instead of confining you to a horizontal plane.

The control setup may have been created with touch screen devices in mind, but it works just as well using a keyboard and mouse. The game also allows you to create your own key bindings and adjust the mouse sensitivity, which is not always a given with mobile ports. Full controller support is also included, but I found aiming with the mouse to be much more accurate. Some precision when it comes to aiming is required as unlike the mobile version your shots do not automatically lock on to enemies. You can move your robot between three cover points set in the left, middle or right of each level and then pop up to shoot or duck to stay out of danger. Some enemies will try to flush you out by lobbing grenades behind your cover or by slicing through everything with lasers. This means that you will have to stay on the move and time your shots carefully to stay out of their crosshairs. You can also perform a special move which allows you to instantly jump from one side of the screen to the other which is useful for avoiding lasers. The level select screen indicates which types of enemies you will be facing which allows you to pick the right gun for the job, if you can afford it. Counters, missiles and boosters offer further aid during battle and are all available from the salvage screen, at a price.

The game runs on the Unreal 3 engine, so the visuals are really not bad despite the mobile origins of the game. You can select between three preset detail levels and adjust the resolution. The developers have also added some visual enhancements such as dynamic lighting, bloom, DOF and motion blur in addition to overhauling the existing visual effects. The result is a good looking game that performs well even on older machines. I didn’t encounter any bugs while playing and the developers appear to be actively looking into any reported issues, so this is certainly not a quick mobile cash-in. The audio is decent and thankfully the music and sound effects volumes can be adjusted independently, which is something that is often lacking from these types of ports.

EPOCH is probably not going to tempt players away from the latest big budget shooters, but it offers a nice arcade-like alternative that can be played and enjoyed in short bursts. I would have liked to see a few more levels and more boss encounters, but the game has plenty of replay value and the inclusion of the Arena mode definitely adds to the longevity. Having to unlock the harder difficulty settings might be annoying to some players, but it prevents newcomers from jumping in at the deep end and biting off more than what they can chew. Uppercut games appear to have addressed all the issues that usually plague the release of mobile titles on PC and it will be interesting to see what else they have up their sleeve.

*Review originally published July 2014.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP SP2, Vista, or Windows 7
  • Processor: 2.0+ GHz or better (dual core recommended)
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA 8000 series or higher (Shader Model 3 Compatible)
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
  • OS: Windows XP SP2, Vista, or Windows 7
  • Processor: 2.0+ GHz or better (dual core recommended)
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA 8000 series or higher (Shader Model 3 Compatible)
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space

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