Reagan Gorbachev is a game developed and published by Team2Bit. It’s a top-down stealth shooter game with a retro arcade feel. It takes place in 1986 and the Cold War leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev have been kidnapped by the enemy. In an unlikely situation and turn of events they must team up and fight together in order to escape. The game has an 80’s video game style and soundtrack that certainly harkens back to classic arcade games.
The main objective in each stage is to guide the pair to the vent at the end of each level. The game has speed running elements, so it also has a focus on completely stages as fast as possible. I will also start by saying that the game has clearly drawn inspiration from the hugely popular and stylized Hotline Miami games. You play from a top-down view and sees you sneaking up on unsuspecting guards throughout prison blocks. Raegan uses a samurai sword whilst Mikhail uses blow darts to take out bad guys. You can actually then go and retrieve darts that you have fired. As Mikhail you can also pick up a wide variety of weapons that you conveniently find scattered around the levels.
The core and most interesting gameplay mechanic is the ability to switch between the two playable characters at any time. Each of the characters possess different abilities and playstyles. Reagan has the ability to open red doors with lock picks and Gorbachev can open doors and hack into terminals around the stages. I really enjoyed experimenting with the different weapons in each stage and found using a silenced pistol very effective for quietly and quickly moving through areas whilst taking out enemies.
You can play the game how you like, but I found it most effective to use a stealthy approach and trying not to alert any guards, as it makes things a lot easier. You can’t always rely on stealth though as some parts require you to use loud weapons like rocket launchers in order to progress. The game uses interesting cutscenes after each stage, and are often have funny moments that see the pair arguing in ridiculous situations. Unfortunately, there is no co-op in the game which is a shame but I can understand this as the main bulk of the gameplay centers o having the ability to switch between the two and the puzzles in the game require you to think about which character to use for certain actions.
It starts out easy enough but the game quickly ramps up in difficulty. Much like Hotline Miami the game requires planning, thought and a lot of trial and error. The stages become larger and more complex, with various routes, doors and enemies. You will also come across traps that you need to keep a constant eye out for. The game plays pretty similar to Hotline Miami and sees you carefully surveying areas, planning your route and attack sequence. It’s all about timing, precision and making sure you eliminate enemies quickly and efficiently.
The level design is also very good, with well thought out areas and interesting placements, whilst having a sleek and minimalistic style. I still prefer the vibrant neon colours used in Hotline Miami but this still manages to have its own unique aesthetic. The design may look simple but the gameplay is anything but that. Completing certain stages can prove to be a heck of a challenge and sees you having to stay on your toes as there can be multiple hazards to take into account. The game also does a good job of mixing things up with unique and interesting gameplay moments, like being chased by tanks or being fired at by enemy helicopters. I really liked these moments as they felt exciting and a nice change of pace from the rest of the game. I think what makes the gameplay so absorbing is knowing that you could die at any moment. I found the key to getting better at the game was all about timing and player movement. There was something extremely satisfying about swiftly moving through an area undetected whilst quietly taking out enemies in your way.
As I said the presentation is decent enough but I still prefer the design of Hotline Miami, which I feel packs more of a punch of character and visual flair. I appreciate what this game is going for and it still works well to a degree. The washed out minimalistic style exaggerates the blood splatters and suits the theme well. The cutscenes look like 90’s NES games which look nice and have stuttering animation, that I actually really enjoyed.
The sound design is great and has some interesting tracks, but again it doesn’t quite match up to the fantastic soundtrack of Hotline Miami, which I actually listen to outside of playing the game.
Overall this is a decent game that has clearly taken a lot of inspiration from Hotline Miami in terms of design and gameplay. It does offer some unique ideas, like the ability to switch between characters and I also really enjoyed the moments that changed things up a bit. The cutscenes are a nice stop-gap between stages and can often have some funny moments. If you enjoy games like Hotline Miami and want to see a different take on the genre, then I would suggest giving this title a go. It can be challenging but satisfying and certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously.
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