icon Author: Alexkayl
Project Downfall Review

What an adrenaline rush that is Project Downfall, a first-person action game that takes the old arcade style seen in Duke Nukem 3D and mixes it with new tech. This cyberpunk adventure will turn your pixelized face into a bloody pulp and encourage you to keep going, using every means at your disposal to eliminate the vast roster of criminals, addicts, mobsters, annoyed ex-girlfriends, and everyone else who stands in your way, sanity be damned. It’s John Wick but faster, grittier, and with a complete disregard for morality. The stuff that makes a great videogame, in short.

John Wicker

Without getting too deep into the futuristic world of Project Downfall, let’s just say that this new world order that you may have heard about in the real world is finally established and you, a bland and unremarkable inhabitant of the first mega-city of Europe, Crimson Tide, is about to start another boring day. Citizens are kept in check thanks to mandatory medication, but you use it to your advantage, giving back to society at night as a vigilante who is taking out scumbags left and right. Apparently, because your sanity may be on the line here, as you delve deeper into this underworld.

Project Downfall is a weird blend of influences and one that grabs you from the beginning. Your luxurious apartment and beautiful girlfriend may hint at a wonderful life, but as soon as you get on that train and start dealing your own kind of justice, it’s all going downhill. Completing each short but challenging level will introduce you to new mechanics, moves, and weapons, expanding your possibilities with the help of pills that give you super-powers such as bullet time or super-strength.

Taking out enemies in quick succession leads to impressive combos that make you stronger, but chaining them successfully can be quite demanding. It’s risk versus reward at its finest, as you choose the type of approach to take at each moment: going in fast and furious, taking it slowly and peeking around every corner, or popping a pill and going full on Max Payne.

The challenge mostly comes from the fact that you are not a superhero, despite everything pointing to it. Sure, you can double-jump on walls, slow down time, nail headshots like crazy, and dual-wield pistols like in the best John Woo movies, but a steel pipe to the face will kill you instantly. A stray bullet that hits you in a certain way means game over, and a knife to the gut is a death sentence. You can take some damage, but one hit kills are frequent and standing in the line of fire means you’re dead in one second or less. Project Downfall is challenging but not unfair – you learn with your mistakes, memorize the layout of the area and the positions of the enemies, and try again.

When you’re feeling confident, speed-running a level is a possibility, as there are leaderboards showcasing the best performances. Proceed to the next stage and you lose all your current weapons, ramping the challenge again right from the beginning. However, look around in some dark corners or bathrooms and you may be in for a surprise, ranging from getting shot in the face to discovering a Uzi begging to be picked up.

The action is exhilarating, fun, the levels are surprising both in terms of diversity and style, and it’s always great to return home and discover how some of your choices have affected it, how it is changed to represent your current state of mind and the effects of your actions in the city. Project Downfall boasts 12 different endings according to your decisions, which means that sparing or eliminating some characters may take you in a certain direction, while sometimes you must choose if you head over to this or that area.

Pill Popper

This takes me to what I consider the biggest flaw in the game and one that drags Project Downfall down from greatness. The AI in the game is far from being up to current standards, obeying to obvious rules such as “I see, I shoot.” Get into the area of action of an enemy and he will track you down, shoot at the first opportunity, and just try to turn you into a bloody mess. But if you tread carefully, peek around corners, or simply try to spot an enemy from a distance, you can shoot them before they even react to your presence. Worse still, other enemies may be standing two feet away and won’t react at all to the crunchy sound and the brain matter splattered across the place, maybe even on their faces.

Hit detection could do with some work as well, considering the times that I have died after failing a hit that seemed like a clean headshot. Getting up close and personal is the worst, as there’s a fine line between a successful kick in the face – which has the power to stun an enemy – and a failed kick. Restarting a level repeatedly because I allegedly failed to kick the 34th enemy in a given section by a millimeter can be frustrating.

But that’s all forgotten to an extent when you chain combos like John Wick in his prime, blasting away through clubs, stores, and saunas without slowing down, millions of tiny glass fragments flying around you and creating a remarkable and brutal visual spectacle. If there’s a game worthy of an epilepsy warning then this is the one, and it does include one for sure, getting you prepared for the deluge of psychedelic effects, flashing colors, extreme palette combinations that very few other games would dare to attempt… and yet it works. Project Downfall looks positively amazing, in a way that few cyberpunk games ever managed to.

As a random example, there’s this fantastic disco club level with loads of vibrant lights and speakers blasting brain-numbingly loud music, with smoke and the ravers getting in the way of your visibility. This provides several opportunities for the bad guys to camouflage and jump at you from the middle of the crowd, creating a first-time experience that is awesome both in sensorial and gameplay terms.

Speaking of which, the original soundtrack powering Project Downfall is another highlight. The tracks are incredibly atmospheric and suited to the locations you go through, from chilling moody pieces to bangers that will give you the extra rush you need. It’s a brilliant work that enlivens the package and the game wouldn’t be the same without this quality.

You’re Breathtaking

Project Downfall is an addictive, original, and often clever take on old-school shooters with a branching storyline. Like a first-person Hotline Miami, the incredibly fast action and ruthless combat grows on you, helped by the fantastic art style and phenomenal soundtrack. If the enemies exhibited an ounce of intelligence, a very good game could easily become a cult hit. Dive into this tale of a pill popping vigilante and show the thugs who’s the boss, even if it means that your face will be introduced to fists aplenty.


  • Fantastic art style that mixes the old with the new
  • Frantic, addictive, and merciless arcade action
  • Diverse and interesting locations
  • Banging soundtrack
  • Branching storyline with 12 endings


  • Enemy AI is severely lacking

Rating: 8/10

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