Ever wanted to know what it feels like to be a proper superhero? No, not the web-swinging acrobatics of Spider-Man or the crime-solving machismo of Batman. A proper, superpowered being. It’s an experience video game developers have long struggled to replicate - Superman: The New Adventures, anyone? - but Pentadimensional Games may have finally cracked the metahuman code with the empowering destruction of Megaton Rainfall.
You embody the incorporeal form of the Offspring, an indestructible guardian that’s been sent to Earth to defend it from an impending alien invasion. And we mean the entire Earth. Thankfully, you’re imbued with the power to fly at speeds that don’t just break the sound barrier, they shatter it into dust. You thunder past cities - or through them, if you’re feeling more malevolent than benign - or rocket up into the stars before zooming off to a new location around the globe. It’s a breathtaking experience, especially during the first hour or two, and one we never expected to see pulled off on Switch.
Originally designed for use with PlayStation VR (and later, other PC-based headsets), you can immediately tell Megaton Rainfall was built with the immersive space of virtual reality in mind. Set entirely in first-person, there’s a real thrill when you reach the fastest of Machs, hurtling from one continent to another in first-person, passing lakes, ocean, cities and (mostly) barren wasteland. With your offensive powers resigned to a burst of energy you can fire from your hand, you soon realise Megaton Rainfall is a basically an FPS that's sprouted wings.
This is, to say the least, a mostly rough-looking game. There are moments of genuine beauty to behold - such as when you float above the planet and the sun sparkles amid the distant stars - but down on Earth you’ll mostly be speeding past featureless terrain or cities with blurry-looking buildings. There’s also a real noticeable green/brown hue to the world you’re guarding, and that muddiness can really affect how you play.
Your flight speed is incredibly smooth, but often so fluid it’s easy to overshoot your chosen destination. There’s also no targeting system, which can make trying to line up a shot in a 360-degree space more than a little challenging. It’s an issue compounded by the fact that some alien ships or weak points are so small it’s more a case of luck than skill to hit them. The fact that many of these extraterrestrial invaders can disappear into the colour pallet of the background just adds to the problem.
However, the longer you play, the easier it becomes to distinguish these flying foes - each with their own unique flight pattern and strengths - and you soon learn to try and compensate for the perpetual ‘slipperiness’ of your godly avatar, but it doesn’t detract from the fact the game would have befitted from a little more guidance on its HUD design (or a means to repair the damage done to each city). We find enemies are a lot easier to identify when playing on your TV in docked mode, but it’s an issue nonetheless.
Since you’re an unkillable god, the game’s sense of peril is, instead, measured by the health of the area you’re defending. An on-screen bar will gradually deplete as your alien foes lay waste to the city, meaning you’ll need all that speed to zoom between wave points. It’s also incredibly easy to cause collateral damage yourself, with your blasts of energy providing enough firepower to level a whole block in something reminiscent of Man of Steel’s final act. The sounds of people screaming en masse every time you miss a shot - and you will, a lot - will ensure your best intentions are often tempered with a perpetual sense of guilt.
The campaign has a decent enough story behind it, but most of the time you'll just be concerned with blowing things up and cringing everytime a well-meaning blast of energy misses an alien craft and levels a skyscraper. There's an arcade-style Score Attack mode to unlock later and an endless Free mode as well, but that's about it when it comes to replayability. There's also no support for gyro controls, which seems like a missed opportunity considering this is a title built with motion controllers in mind.
Missions are mostly divided between destroying multiple alien ship types and other small deviations to mission designs, such as flinging nuclear bombs into a nearby ocean or hurling them into space, but more often than not you’re just flying around the planet following a marker that ultimately leads you to the same kind of goal. There are elements of Resogun here thanks to its shooter DNA and firepower management, but unlike Housemarque’s magnificent 3D blaster, Megaton Rainfall too often cries out for a little more variety to spice up the 'wow' factor of its premise.
Created by a one-person team based out of Madrid, Megaton Rainfall is, at the very least, a technical marvel. It’s very much comparable to No Man’s Sky; an indie hit that wows with its sheer scale and the breadth of its ambition. But much like Hello Games’ oft-maligned space explorer, this superhero simulator struggles to maintain the impressive impact of its first hour, or live up to the lofty heights of those dangerously high ambitions.