F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) was a tactical first-person that boasted impressive destruction physics in 2005. This was not an ordinary military shooter, it was heavily influenced by Japanese horror and the protagonist could slow down time, which lent itself well to frantic shootouts with the paranormal.
F.E.A.R. received several expansions and sequels, but fans unanimously concurred that the first game remained the best. The canonical consistency of the series was frequently in doubt, as certain events did not align correctly. Eventually, some fans matured into game developers, and some boys in Canada endeavored to create their continuation… kind of.
There was never a ‘Trepang1’. Probably what makes Trepang2 so scary is that it shouldn’t have a two in the title, but it does… Anyone who ever felt that F.E.A.R. wasn’t fast enough and needed more dual-wielding will be excited for this one. What is Trepang2? Find out in this review!
Developer: Trepang Studios
Platforms: Windows PC, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5 (reviewed)
Release Date: October 2, 2023
Price: $29.99 USD
Trepang is a sea cucumber. ‘Trepang squared’, is a lawyer-friendly spiritual successor to F.E.A.R. that comes close to being the real thing. While there is less emphasis on J-horror influences, Trepang2 makes the intelligent choice to differentiate itself by leaning on SCP (Secure Contain Protect) Foundation inspiration.
At first, Trepang2 seems like it is going to be a grounded and realistic Call of Duty-style military shooter, but with some MK Ultra flavor. The protagonist is only known as ‘Subject 106’, and he is a victim of human experimentation conducted by a shady organization known as Horizon. The nature of the experiments is kept vague, but they did involve some kind of Ludovico-esque torture.
Horizon planned to make the next generation of super soldiers and it worked because 106 is endowed with unbelievable reflexes and speed. Trepang2 wastes no time in letting the action go into overdrive immediately and sets players loose on their murder spree and daring escape from the medical facility.
Subject 106 is a bizarre petri dish of mutations and superhuman abilities that defy the laws of physics. Not only can he slow down his perception of time, but he can turn invisible. It’s not just his body that achieves transparency, but somehow his clothes and guns too. They aren’t special clothes made out of some kind of sci-fi fibers; he wears very basic fatigues or a prison jumper.
Subject 106 is a lot like Nomad or Prophet from the Crysis games, but with more fluid and simpler controls and he doesn’t need a suit. He also talks as much as the Doom man and acts merely as the player’s vessel to John Wick their way through stages.
Trepang2 is straightforward yet intricate due to the wide array of abilities at the player’s disposal. The core experience primarily involves progressing through a series of linear gauntlets. Occasionally, players may engage in minimal exploration, but the predominant focus is on intense shootouts.
What sets Trepang2 apart and contributes significantly to its appeal is the playability of Subject 106. He’s exceptionally agile, with movement like a straight razor slicing through fine and expensive silk. He’s fast as death itself, and he can execute swift dash-slides to close the gap between himself and adversaries, unleashing shotgun blasts at point-blank range to devastating effect.
One of 106’s abilities is invisibility, which, although highly effective, is limited in its application. Players can use it in brief bursts but must exercise caution, as it isn’t a reliable, all-encompassing solution to every situation.
The standout feature of 106’s arsenal is his slow-mo power, adding an extra layer of intensity to the already visceral combat. This ability heightens the sense of power as bullets tear through flesh and shatter bone, extending the duration of these gruesome moments and allowing players to savor the carnage as it’s agonizingly drawn out.
Trepang2 offers simple yet engaging gameplay with a focus on sequential combat scenarios. Subject 106’s mobility and abilities make the game highly playable, while his limited invisibility and exhilarating slow-motion power add depth and excitement to the action, immersing players in thrilling gunfire and juicy gore.
The visuals are very plain and resemble any Call of Duty or similar realistic military FPS. There is a noticeable lack of style. Lighting is usually kept very flat and character designs are unmemorable. The graphics aren’t bad, they are very good, but it all looks incredibly generic.
The gore effects in slow-mo and dismemberment are easily the biggest highlights of the presentation. The way blood glistens brightly like crimson rubies in zero gravity when a monster or some guy in SWAT gear gets their skull smashed into jelly from a hail of two machine guns in each of 106’s hands, is incredibly striking.
The only real problem with Trepang2 is how short it is. This game moves at a break-neck pace, dragging the player kicking and screaming and then it wraps itself up too quickly. While playing casually, anticipate a run time around the four-hour mark. There should have been more build-up and tension before the weird and paranormal stuff gets introduced.
Sonically, Trepang2 leans in hard with a mix of techno and hard metal. There are pieces that try to make the player feel empowered and most of the time, it works and you’ll feel the euphoria of the savagery that the music emphasizes.
Trepang2 is like F.E.A.R. with some Paul Verhoven cheekiness. There is a hint of self-awareness in the game with the lackadaisical approach to the narrative and the joke that 106 needs a serum to dual-wield. It is both clever and dumb at the same time.
It doesn’t quite reach the highs of F.E.A.R., but the gunplay and fetishized gore manage to outclass the violence that Alma was capable of. Don’t expect to get emotionally invested or scared much. Trepang2‘s effort at horror feels more obligatory than anything else. At the very least, expect to have a fun time dancing in the blood.
Trepang2 was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a code provided by Team17. Additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy can be found here. Trepang2 is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 5