Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
There are a lot of games with guns in them, and a lot which strive for some measure of simulation, but few that manage to wring the tension, nuance and sense of expression that Receiver [official site] does from its arsenal of carefully modeled handguns.
You are a receiver, one of a small group of humans immune from the brainwashing of some vaguely described controlling force that aims to subjugate society. On a small series of greybox rooftops at night, you hunt for the tapes that explain your predicament, the world, and what you’re expected to do about it. While you hunt, you’re faced with flying, electrifying bots and slow-rotating but rapid-firing gun turrets.
Your real struggle though is against your own hands. Each of the game’s handguns is controlled via Q, E, R, T, Z and V; one button to pop the magazine, one button to empty it of spent shells, one button to pop bullets inside, one button to pop it back inside your gun, one button to prime the chamber, one button to turn off the safety, one button to pull the trigger. Forget any one of them, or fumble their order while trying to reload, and you can quickly find yourself dead and starting over.
There are two things great about this: panic and poise. Panic in that moment when you’re being chased by a flying robot screeching through doorways on its way to electrocute you, and you just pressed the wrong button and dropped your only remaining bullet down a flight of stairs instead of putting it in your gun. Poise in that moment where you’ve spotted an enemy and you’re about to attack it, after having just loaded your gun and cocked it with a flourish. Panic when you open fire and realise you forgot to turn the safety off. Poise when you find your next tape and stare out over an urban nightscape while the cold, nebbish voice fills in more of this cyberpunk world.
Everything else I wrote about the game in 2014 remains true. It’s $5 from the developers.