Great moments in PC gaming: Going on the defensive in Dawn of War 2

Need to know

What is it? A game that wants a roguelike, a rhythm game, and an FPS to have an electronic baby.
Expect to pay $20/£15
Developer Awe Interactive
Publisher Awe Interactive
Reviewed on GeForce GTX 1650, AMD Ryzen 5 3550H, 8 GB RAM
Multiplayer? No
Link Official site

I don’t know how many times I’ve found myself frozen by indecision, unable to decide whether I quite specifically want to play an FPS, a roguelike, or a rhythm game. Okay, I do know how many times—none—but now, that’s one less thing in life for me to potentially worry about. Here, we have a game that forces these disparate genres into an unholy tryst, and the sweaty aftermath is as attractive as it is unnerving. Please, let me explain.

Before I say anything else, I have to confess that, for at least ten minutes after first starting the game up, I genuinely believed that I’d run into a technical issue. A bug, perhaps, or a compatibility issue with my graphics card. Colour saturation has been deliberately kicked up to terrifying levels; the first area gives the impression of somebody having smeared syrup over my monitor when I wasn’t looking. This can be reduced in the menu, but it’s not possible to achieve ‘normal’ graphics. I got used to it. Eventually.

The main hook is that the actions of your weapons, both firing and reloading, are tied into the synth-tinged rock soundtrack. You need to act in time to the beat of the music. Try to shoot out of sync, and your gun jams. Attempt to reload outside of the beat (something that can require multiple button taps), and nothing happens. It makes sense, then, that enemy attacks are also tethered to the music. It’s a constant dance on a knife edge between me and the monsters.

(Image credit: Awe Interactive)

It’s a system that takes some getting used to, but once I feel that I’m on top of it, it offers up some uniquely satisfying moments. Against a background of rumbling power chords and squealing guitar solos, I shimmy funkily through the dungeon like a demon-hunting Bruno Mars. Dun-dun-dun-dun, the guitar murmurs. Pow-pow-pow-pow, roars my gun, as I take out two bats and a worm. I automatically start timing my taps of the dodge button to match the music, even though I don’t need to. It’s strangely intoxicating.

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