Split-screen multiplayer was a huge part of our gaming experiences growing up, especially first-person shooters. And the singular element that tied together every split-screen shooter game was that moment when you totally called out your buddy for cheating and looking at your corner of screen. We all did it; it was too hard to resist sneaking a peek. And this is why Screencheat is such a brilliant game: It encourages you to look at your opponents’ screens, because that’s the only way to win.
Screencheat comes to us from developer Samurai Punk in Australia. The premise is simple enough: It’s a first-person shooter where every character is invisible. So in order to score, you have to look at your opponents’ screens and deduce where they are, based on the brightly colored and iconic areas of the level.
Aesthetically, Screencheat is bright, humorous, and lighthearted. Candelabras and hobby horses go up against grenade launchers and pulse cannons in a zany mix of silly, over-the-top weaponry. The level we played was a museum that felt like a technicolor layer cake, and in a place like this, the different colored zones are the biggest hint of where your opponents are. We ran through the multi-tiered environment, rapidly glancing at the other three screens so we could fire blindly. You’d be surprised how quickly you adapt, and many of the weapons in the game have a fairly generous range – so even blind-firing manages to score a few kills.
There are numerous modes in Screencheat, including a traditional deathmatch, as well as a mode where each player only gets one shot… and can’t fire again until everyone has fired their weapon.
While it’s certainly more of a party game than a tournament-level shooter, Screencheat does test your skills, and it creates a great competitive experience. More importantly, it evokes that ultimate party game experience of making you want to punch your friend in the shoulder every time they score on you.
Screencheat feels like a nostalgic throwback while simultaneously twisting well-known game mechanics on their heads. It’s a refreshing mix of old and new, and it’s a great choice for spicing up game nights with friends. Screencheat hits Xbox One later this year via ID@Xbox.