Plenty of games have high difficulties. Volgarr the Viking used to take me 2 hours per level to complete. Getting up from the chair and turning off the game meant that I had to replay the level from the start. That was part of what Volgarr the Viking is. I expect it, but when a game like Meltdown does it after 27 quick missions, it becomes an issue.
Meltdown is a grind of a shooter, but its probably the lightest grind that I’ve ever played. I was able to breeze through the randomly generated missions in 8 hours with only a few offering 30 minutes of challenge. Even the final mission was a mere 30 minutes compared to the 2 hours that I spent on the 28th mission.
The issue wasn’t the fact that I was too low on the level totem pole. I walked in at level 43, but walked out after 2 hours as level 52. The problem wasn’t even the randomness of randomly generated levels and enemies. It all boiled down to the game turning the knob from the fair challenge to unfairly spawning enemies on top of me.
Its a tactical shooter. You can hide behind walls safely for cover. Later missions have enemies spawn behind your cover. That’s fine too. Even one enemy spawning directly on my location still meant that I could roll away to safety. Half a dozen enemies can still surround me and I can still do the same thing. Anything more than a second out of cover with three or more enemies shooting at you is a death sentence.
The game decided to see fit to spawn three or four enemies on top of me, blocking me, trapping me, and preventing me from moving at all. When they are that close, the split second window to roll or dodge turns into instant death even with full health and shields. It is after all tactical and I’m out of cover.
No amount of grinding could save me. I even went to lesser levels to collect mystery boxes that had a random chance of an extra life inside. That’s part of Meltdown’s charm is lives don’t come easy. You always have no lives in reserve unless you find them in a random game of chance. I like that, but mission 28 was a random game of chance that so many enemies would spawn on top of me.
I thought that maybe it was me, maybe it was my play style. I started taking precautions. Inching up to cover, because I knew when I hit that cover enemies would spawn in. They’d still spawn on top of me. So to compensate I tried the Rambo approach, why inch to cover when you can just run past it shooting everything? Well out of cover only gets me shot dead.
Another player dropped into my game giving me hope that I would soon complete the mission, but no. Random chance struck me down, five enemies spawned on top of me and circle killed me with electricity, sniper rifles and a shot gun. So I used a life that I had been saving. I still had hope that this other player and I would overcome the randomness and go on to victory!
I watched as four enemies spawned in on him and instantly murdered his level 55 character. It was clear how this game works on mission 28. I lasted a few minutes longer, before the enemies spawned in on me.
The few times I had managed to overcome the random odds of being spawned on top of, the twin mega sniper bosses finished me off. I’d usually run out of ammunition during their fight and I’d be forced to melee them with my wrench.
Like all stories, there was a finale where I had enough grenades and rockets to obliterate the double snipers, but the victory was short lived as enemies spawned on top of me before I could make it to the exit elevator. In time and many tries, I managed to prevail, but I feel like it was winning random game of chance that had pushed me through to mission 29. When it was all over, it told me my time was 5:14.