Ever feel the need for steam? I'm not talking about Newell's nice little gaming platform, but the vapory phase of water that results from boiling H2O. Am I going too technical here? Let me break it down; Chasing Carrots' Steampunk themed game Pressure shows us just how valuable steam and vapor pressure would be in case of a waterless crisis scenario.
Pressure is a helicopter-viewpoint, racing/action hybrid game that puts you in the shoes of a young steampunk racer, who wakes up to discover that the pure water on his patio is no longer there, and instead he finds a sandy terrain that reaches as far as the eye can see. The culprit? A corrupt Count, whose wicked intentions involve building a pipe system that goes deep down the blazing earth's core itself, in order to boil the recently acquired water and get working steam for his future Spa. Such a perverse goal!
There's no voice acting, but actually it's better off that way. Voiceless cut-scenes nail it for these pick-up and play type of games, since a complex storyline and character development would spoil the whole point of a game that attempts to quickly put you into the action. Jokey storytelling and animations conform with the mood of Pressure; a laugh attached to satisfying gameplay merges just fine.
Moving onto the serious business, the gameplay is the strongest aspect of Pressure. Three difficulties: Easy, Normal and Absurd. Soon after the opening cinematic, the Racer and his 100% steampunk built canine companion fasten their steampunk seatbelts and start off what seems to be a Steampunky street race, with your regular racing flag. Before long I realized Pressure is no racing game; at least not entirely. Hostile vehicles start showing up and without notice, begin to shoot at my steamy Buggy automobile. Fortunately for me, I'm well equipped with a Turbo boost and a kick-ass machinegun mounted on my ride. The buggy runs on Pressure, working without the need of gas fuel, but relying on a limited vapor resource.
Three worlds and ten levels (plus a boss fight) are what Pressure offers, each level has four or five Checkpoints, and when you pass them you are given a decent amount of Pressure to keep your buggy running, as well as re-supplying your life bar, patching it up and preventing oil leaks caused by the enemy devastating shooting. Checkpoints come in handy, specially when running low of Pressure, inasmuch as it's extremely frustrating to lose the level by depleting your resources. Despite the rather deceiving naming, Checkpoints will not make you spawn on the last one reached in case of running out of Pressure or falling in battle, and their only purpose is to load you between each one.
Multiplayer is featured too, giving you even more content and gametime for your cents. In multiplayer, one racer can give his or her partner a small portion of Pressure if the other racer is dangerously low on fuel, so he/she doesn't struggle waiting for the next checkpoint.
You're not alone on your quest on Singleplayer though, a peculiar character will assist you in very helpful manners; a steampunk car parts dealer with a garage full of deadly upgrades you can choose from to pimp your ride. From soap bar shooting turrets to front defensive custom rams, you can be sure that your Buggy will have a decent enough arsenal to dispose of the nuisances along the way, and hell if it isn't fun. A nice touch is the addition of a Chit-chat button that will make the parts dealer say a few cheesy lines. I abused of this feature, it makes for a weird yet humorous interaction after half an hour of trying to beat a difficult level.
Enemies vary greatly, but you'll mostly be seeing Spatanks, Racing Tubs or Scrubbers. All kinds of Spa and Bath related baddies will mess your day up, but don't mistakenly assume they're designed to give you a relaxing massage. Developers know Pressure is essencial (after all, they made the game), reason why they went ahead and cleverly set Suckers on the road. The little annoyances will drain your Pressure, and if they run away with it, you're likely to fall behind the level. Regardless, the Count's inventions are certainly fun to blast through.
You'll get a score at the end of each level, which in turn means gold/cash you can spend on fancy upgrades. Secondary weapons, Armor and Protective Rams will have you drooling over the best and baddest-looking admixtures, and make your buggy look as sleek as possible. Each type of upgrade, excepting only the Armor, have three tiers. Buy a mounted minigun, and then buy a stack or two more to get more firepower for your buck. Naturally, one wants but the best he can afford, so I meant to replay levels more than once, but this is not possible, at least not on the campaign. You can however play any game you want on the Freeplay mode, but that won't net you any gold for your campaign progress.
The game's score and sound effects are as cartoonish as they get, and at the same time fit the funny steampunk theme. You can hear each bullet your chain gun fire hit the bodywork of your opponents' rides, along with an onomatopoeia, which is quite satisfying. Graphics are standard at most, but detailed enough to perceive the damage you do.
Pressure is quite a fun game, and is strongly recommended to gamers into Steampunk, or race-shooting. Lasting singleplayer campaign and Freeplay plus Multiplayer modes increase even further Pressure's lifespan. A reasonably fair 15$ price tag might make gamers consider Pressure as one of their top pick-up and play titles.