Shadowgrounds Survivor is a top-down shooter that's very reminiscent of the top-down shoot em ups of the 90's. You play from the points of view of three survivors of an alien attack that are just trying to stay alive (and sane). The game is divided up into nine episodes, each episode is played as a different survivor and slowly you see the overall story by seeing it through each survivor.
The episodes are made of between one and four levels. You get five respawns per level so you so you don't need to worry about saving but they can make the game a bit too easy at times. Most levels you just go from point A to point B killing everything that gets in your way but in some levels you have to defend something or recover something to keep it interesting. There are also some small parts of the game where you get to control a mech or a sentry gun to keep the gameplay from getting stale.
Each of the survivors have different weapons and abilities, this means you have to use different tactics with each if you want to survive and it can get annoying when you have just got used to using one only to be forced to the use one of the others. As you kill enemies you gain experience and parts. Parts are used to upgrade your weapons and experience is used to upgrade the player with new abilities . There are only three upgrades per weapon and nine upgrades per survivor but you still have to choose well as a bad choice could make the game a lot harder for you.
Overall the game play is very fun and the upgrade system adds some strategy to it all. There are a few little faults, like how enemies can easily get stuck behind things but after a while of playing your having so much fun you forget about these things.
There are a total of 5 difficulty settings to keep you busy but I would stay away from easy and medium unless you want to finish the game in one day. Throughout the game there are 20 secrets parts to collect that are used to unlock bonus options and extra survivor missions.
The only extra modes are the co-op (see multi player) and the survival mode. In survival mode you have to survive a never ending swarm of enemies for as long as you can. there's a score board for the survival mode so if you have friends that like this kind of game you can compete for the highest survivor time.
There's a level editor included with the game so if you've played the game to death you can make your own levels to keep it interesting. I personally like it when you can get a level editor with a game, it can make a good game last for months and even if you can't use the level editor yourself it means that other users will be making content to keep you going.
In Shadowgrounds survivor the keyboard moves the survivor and is used for things like throwing grenades, using the flashlight, using switches and entering the character upgrade menu. And the mouse is used to to aim your gun and shoot. Because of its top down style the aiming is little unusual. You use the cursor to control what way the character is facing and how close it is to the character controls how high or low they aim. You can also turn the camera buy moving the cursor to the edge of the screen but this sometimes means you have to choose between aiming at the enemy and turning the camera so you can see where you are going.
When I first started playing I found the controls a little awkward and I found it hard to concentrate on where I was going and what I was shooting at but as time went on I got used to them and then after some more time I had got really good at using them. The only thing I would recommend changing is making the middle mouse button through grenades as this makes things so much more easier.
If you don't like the way the controls work you can make it so the camera always faces the same way the player is, this makes the game more of a second person shooter, whichsome people may prefer this.
The game includes offline co-op. Normally this means sharing the keyboard with a player 2 or using gamepads but Shadowgrounds Survivor has support for multiple keyboards and mice allowing you to and player 2 to have your own keyboards and mice. When playing co-op you really have to cooperate with the other player as respawns are shared and you have to make sure health is used effectively. If you have a friend that likes the game too the co-op mode could easily be the best thing about the game,
The game might not look amazing but its by no means ugly. The game looks nicest when you are in the dark and you have use the flashlight, these parts can be quite atmospheric and remind me of game like Doom 3. The cut scenes really let the games presentation down. When you are playing the game you don't notice the how little detail there is in the survivors and their surroundings but when you see them close up during the cut scenes they look like something out of a game from 8 years ago.
The story is boring & forgettable and the cut scenes just break up the action. Out of the four characters you play as or meet during the game only two of them were mildly interesting but they weren't given enough time for you to really like them. The voice acting and dialog isn't the worst I've heard in a game but its no where near as good as some games I've played.
The addiction of physics was a nice touch. Although it wasn't needed, it makes throwing a grenade into a pile of boxes/enemies much more entertaining and it was nice to see things getting knocked over during combat. It supports AGEIA's PhysX cards but if you don't have one it just means your CPU will have to do the work.
Nowadays the most important thing in games seems to be the graphics or the story and often gameplay is neglected, but once in a while a game will come along where its story doesn't matter and its graphics are not jaw dropping but its gameplay is solid and very fun.
If you like mindless shooters like Serious Sam or were a fan of top-down shooters in the 90's this could be the game for you but if your the kind of person that needs something more this might not be for you.