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The RPS Advent Calendar 2023, December 15th

Poetry in slow motion

A close up of Horace the Endless Bear looking at a big pile of presents with his name on, next to a plate of cookies with a glass of milk. It's the 2023 RPS Advent Calendar!
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

Gaze down the sights of today's Advent Calendar window and you'll find time is a tricksy, malleable concept that's all slow-motion power slides and extraordinary grenade explosions. Just mind the gibs on the floor there. Wouldn't want to stain your boots.

So why not sit back and savour today's timeless entry. It's Trepang2!

James: I’ll admit to not having played F.E.A.R., overwhelmingly the biggest inspiration for Trepang2 and its slow-mo shootery. Maybe I should, because this indie FPS is a right laugh.

The player reloads their rifle as they stand in front of an armoured soldier in Trepang 2.

Not so much in tone, which goes for a shadowy black ops vibe (with forays into SCP-lite spookiness and occasional body horror). But as a shooter, it’s almost gleeful, positively encouraging a lively and aggressive style of gun-fu that blends precision blasting with up-close chokeslam throws and slidekicks. Stealth? Why bother – the cloaking ability is better deployed for quick mid-fight flanks than it is for sneaking, and quietly snuffing out unaware mooks isn’t nearly as satisfying as hurling them, minus one grenade pin, into a group of their mates.

It helps that the most basic and fundamental method of interacting with Trepang2’s world – shooting it – is executed so well. Guns crack and boom and constantly feel on the verge of exploding right there in your hands, and in what I understand is another F.E.A.R.-ish touch, enemies are clever enough to put up a compelling fight. I often found myself effectively suppressed by whichever Matrix-lobby-ass pillar I was reloading behind, and forced to react by well-chucked grenades. I like these guys, in a way. Shame I have to boot them.

The player blasts an enemy with a shotgun in Trepang 2.

Special mention also goes to Trepang2’s shotgun, my personal 2023 GOTY (gun of the year). Its ferocious bark and perfectly judged spread ensure it is exceptional at making a mouse click feel destructive, and since so much of the game’s scenery is prone to shattering on impact, it’s just as fun when half the pellets miss their mark. For best results: take shottie, apply to man in front of bookcase, watch body disappear in cloud of splintered wood and shredded pages.

Alice0: I like the bit where you slidekick into a baddie to knock them flying, then grab them out of mid-air into a chokehold, then spin them around as a human shield to ward off their pals who are now shouting panicked orders to fan out and flank, then you pull the pin on your shield's grenade and hurl them into their pals, and they explode, then you whip out your twin shotguns to spray survivors with incendiary ammo, then your bullet time ability wears out just as their screams start to fade. You know, the bit which happens every three minutes.

Katharine: I only started playing Trepang2 earlier this week, but cor, using a powerslide to knock down five blokes with riot shields like I'm at a tenpin bowling alley? A+, 10/10. That's the good stuff right there. Top work.

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The all-seeing eye of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, the voice of many-as-one.