Jamestown: Legend Of The Lost Colony is a neo-classical top-down shooter for up to 4 players, set on 17th-century British Colonial Mars. It features all the intensity, depth, and lovingly handcrafted pixels of a classic arcade shooter, with a modern twist: deeply-integrated cooperative gameplay.
What We Think:
Jamestown could be a tutorial for how to make an indie shooter. It’s that good. Two years of development have resulted in a game that is an approachable bullet-hell shooter that has something to offer for everyone, from casual gamers to 1cc pros. Jamestown’s developers have delivered a game with solid indie credentials that could easily have appeared in a neighborhood arcade fifteen years ago. And they did it without sacrificing any accessibility or enjoyability. It’s an old-school shooter with all the trappings of a modern-day triple-A title.
Jamestown’s visuals are impressive, especially from a design perspective. While staying within the bounds of 16-bit graphics, enemies are distinctive and levels are memorable. Considering how many games use bloom effects and pixel shading to hide a lack of artistic strength, it’s a breath of fresh air to see a game that looks great as a result of strong artistic talent, not gimmicks. Especially entertaining is the blend of pulp sci-fi with 17th century colonial America. The game stays pretty consistent with that style. There might be a level with a few trains (as in locomotives) but by that time you’ve already seen frigates under sail in space, so a little more alternate history can be forgiven.
Gameplay is solid. Controls are responsive and accurate, something that you come to appreciate on more difficult levels. Like the best games of the genre, levels are paced such that the action starts off at an easily manageable clip, builds to a frenzied, white-knuckled crescendo, then settles down just before one of the challenging, entertaining boss fights. There are several difficulty settings, all of which scale appropriately, and the harder settings feel genuinely challenging, not cheap. You don’t feel like Jamestown cheats on the highest difficulties, just that it mercilessly punishes mistakes.
The player setup system is worth mentioning for its ingenious simplicity. Jamestown supports up to four players simultaneously, and supports keyboard, mouse, and controller input. Each player holds a button or key, then, following prompts from the game, presses whatever button or key he or she wants to use for firing, pausing the game, and so forth. It all happens on the starting screen, without having to access a menu. It’s one of the most elegant ways I’ve ever seen to handle keybinding and player setup, and is typical of the thoughtfulness and creativity that went into the game.
Thankfully, Jamestown offers plenty of content. Although there aren’t that many levels in the main story, there are bonus levels, ships, and game modes that can be purchased through an in-game store. Veterans of shooters will probably beat the main story in about six hours, but the additional content triples that number. With solid replay value, Jamestown is well worth the price.
Fans of shooters, of retro games, and of gaming in general will all find something to love in Jamestown. This game is an instant classic, and belongs in every gamer’s library.