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Shakedown: Hawaii - Review

Developed and published by the Canadian Vblank Entertainment Studio, Shakedown: Hawaii finally gets released on Steam, after its exclusive period on the Epic Store. Despite the store front, this one has been very well received from the beginning, following the steps of their previous game; Retro City Rampage.

Shakedown: Hawaii is a top-down action game, with a hilarious dose of satire and comical situations, featuring a middle-aged man living off his past successful business on a remote island. Unfortunately, the business world keeps changing with new techs, market models, and opportunities that arise at every dawn.

Lost in debt, with a spoiled son constantly demanding money, the Boss himself has only one plan in his head: Making sure his company, Feeble Multinational, rises again, but this time with an aggressive push over the market.

One of the things I find most hilarious about Shakedown: Hawaii is the humor. It has a satirical approach, one we can easily relate to our relationship with trademarks and consumer products, but in a vastly more aggressive and exaggerated manner. It’s also tremendously funny to witness the impact between generational business models, affecting this old-school CEO.

The story is wildly funny, interesting, and motivates players to keep pursuing new missions, in a mix between management and classic GTA gameplay, with a top-down camera allowing players to freely move across the Island. Shakedown local businesses for extortion money, buy local stores to push away the competition, or keep investing. These are just some of the ways you can make it big in Hawaii.

Players take the role of the CEO and his son, as both of them approach different ways to make their empire grow. The ambitious punk joins the street life of luxury and danger, while his father tries to defy laws in every possible way, using the most stupid yet, ingenious tricks.

The carjacking model is alive and well portrayed, with different cars and bikes, as well as special vehicles to spread chaos. Pick up cop-coins to reduce your wanted level or paint your vehicle to avoid suspicion. You can choose your disguise, style, and haircut, but you cannot replace your destructive approach, nor would you want to. Complete challenges and earn points for the Leaderboard, or simply play it for fun.

Both Arcade and Free Roam modes are included, and can be played separately from the campaign. There’s an easy and normal mode, for those mainly focused on the narrative and progression, and those who want the pre intend experience. I’ve already seen some users on forums complaining the game is not “hard enough”, but I disagree. I think it’s challenging enough without ever becoming frustrating or overly intense.

It’s a fun video-game where creating a wreck can give you a good amount of points, but can you escape the police force? There’s quite the arsenal at your disposal, assuming you unlock them in the main missions that is. From scissors, to rocket launchers, and even grenades. The overall gameplay is equally very pleasant, with responsive controls that require an attentive response, but never exaggerating.

I think Shakedown: Hawaii really is the perfect cross between casual fun and the arcade-like experience, with a beautiful pixel design. There’s even different visual filters one can use to emulate classic system screens. It’s colorful, vibrant, and has a fantastic presentation to it, one which we could call “Retro Futuristic”. In this case, the 80’s are represented, but with some modern technology present.

A lot of gameplay options are present, and most of them end up taking a toll on the visuals. The zoom multiplier for instance, is a great implementation, allowing players to zoom in and out depending on how close they want the camera to be. That alone makes this game experience so much more comfortable. In case you think the in-game pictures look slightly too closed in, or zoomed in, let me assure you the settings allow you to control the Zoom.

Following the visual vibe, we have the Soundtrack, which as expected follows the same retro wave. If you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll immediately love the OST, and for a good reason. It has strong melody lines and some nice beats to go with it, always being reminiscent of the era and the genre. Hearing that small tune every time a mission is completed quickly becomes familiar, as it should, ending up being highly satisfying.

If you didn’t purchase Shakedown: Hawaii before, now it’s the right time to do it. A classic carjacking adventure with lots of twists and unexpected events, following a pack of charismatic characters. Pure pixelation fun, featuring plenty of destruction and corruption of morality, all in a good and funny way. One of the best indie games I had the pleasure to play this year!


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