Screencheat: Unplugged (Switch eShop) Review
Screencheat takes the much-maligned tactic from multiplayer shooters and turns it into the core focus, sprinkling in a healthy dose of memes and cultural references to create an unabashed silly time with friends.
Ordinarily, “screencheating”, “screenhacking” – whatever you call it – is regarded by many as an abhorrent tactic used in split-screen multiplayer shooters to gain an unfair advantage. Games such as Goldeneye 007, and the Modern Warfare era Call of Duty games were proponents of this controversial method of play. For those pure of heart who are unfamiliar with the technique, screencheating refers to the act of looking at your opponents’ screen to triangulate their position on the map, allowing you to beeline directly towards landing a merciless kill. Particularly when your mate’s obsession with the famous Rust map in Modern Warfare 2 bordered on unhealthy during high school, I view screencheating as a perfectly legitimate strategy, a great equaliser to narrow the gap between skilled and unskilled players. I don’t think I need to spell out which category I belong to.
Refreshingly, Screencheat goes further than encouraging a sneaky peek at your opponents’ screen – it is a necessity. Played from a first-person perspective, each player is invisible, forcing you to hunt down your prey by looking at their screen to figure out their map position. Once two or more players fumble their way to discovering each other, chaos ensues in a wild game of spray-and-pray. Firing weapons leaves visual indicators such as sparks and smoke to assist in better locating your foes among the colourful maps. Adding in an unapologetically offbeat sense of humour, Screencheat makes for some hilariously hectic multiplayer action.
Unfortunately, Screencheat is structured in such a way that very little content is unlocked from the outset. Instead of mucking around in different maps and modes, you’re only able to begin with the basic My First Deathmatch and a solitary map. Unlocking more things to do requires playing rounds which net points that go towards levelling up, which then gives you more variety in your play. While this does generate a constant sense of progression, I would prefer to have more maps and modes available from the beginning, as Screencheat is at its best when turning everything to random and letting chaos ensue.
Focusing on fast-paced, smooth action, Screencheat excels at quick rounds of high-intensity multiplayer. Your characters move briskly across the small maps, allowing run-and-gun enthusiasts to run rampant while side-eyeing opponents’ screen segments. Camping in one location for any amount of time is not the way to win here, instead favouring those of you who can’t sit still for five seconds. Throw in some pretty capable bots when you don’t have enough physical players, and you’ll encounter quite the challenge.
Each map features a decent sense of verticality with ramps and launchers that fling you in the air, adding to the challenge of trying to pin down other players. Once you unlock them, there’s a decent variety of maps, plus modes such as Gold Rush that sees you frantically collecting coins, only to lose them on death, with the victor whoever holds the most after time expires. You’ll have plenty of scope to tinker with settings such as time limits, points for victory, etc. so you can play largely however you want. Once you start working your way up the unlockable chain, you’ll gain access to modifiers to further tinker with your Screencheat experience. Levelling up also lets you choose from different non-descript characters to play as – upon death, your character model becomes visible as they hilariously ragdoll to the ground.
Arguably the best part about Screencheat is its unashamed fixation on cultural relevance. Packed with references ranging from the relatively recent, such as “getting Shrekt”, to obscure Australianisms such as a random name generator producing “iSnack 2.0”, the ill-fated Vegemite spinoff, Screencheat could well be an interactive meme museum. I laughed deliriously at Screencheat’s nonsensical verbs replacing the standard shooter “X got killed by Y” notification. Such examples include: getting “Limewired”, “Obama’d”, “twerked”, and “Infinity War’d”. However, none come close to the questions posed by getting “Malcolm Turnbull’d”. What does it mean to get Malcolm Turnbull’d, or even to Malcolm Turnbull someone? Does it mean sacrificing personal values for a false sense of party stability? Or perhaps getting unceremoniously knifed for the sake of promoting a less popular candidate? Alternatively, does it mean retiring to your vast fortune delighting in making snide comments to the press and not giving a shit about what anyone else thinks? Screecheat’s utter delight in embracing this oddball humour fits extremely well with how weird and bizarre every other gameplay element is – including the jazzy background music.
Although not the deepest shooter you’ll encounter, Screencheat‘s terrific point of difference makes for a hilarious couch multiplayer game overflowing with more memes than you could poke an invisible stick at.
- Hilarious memes and cultural references
- Clever use of invisibility and local multiplayer
- Smooth, quick gameplay
- Not much content available at beginning