Door Kickers Action Squad is an absurd yet charming indie title that grows increasingly more ridiculous with each level.
Story? Who needs a story? You’re a SWAT team member. Your job is to fight terrorists, arrest bad guys, defuse bombs, and rescue hostages. Who needs to know why? If you do – you’re out of luck. The most dialogue you’ll hear is from “Off-Duty Guy” who is basically John McClane and runs around in boxers spewing grumpy one-liners while shooting everything that moves.
At its core Door Kickers Action Squad is a fairly straight forward run and gun game interspersed with slight RPG mechanics.
You have six classes to choose from: Assaulter, Breacher, Shield, Agent Fergie, Recon, and Off-Duty Guy. Each class also has a default difficulty, with Assaulter being Easy and Agent Fergie being hard. Breacher’s difficulty is simply labeled as LOL. Take that as you will.
Each class has its own style of weapon and setbacks: Assaulter has sustained firepower and can easily fire long range, but is hampered by recoil; Breacher has close range firepower and can blow doors open, but is slow and doesn’t handle long-range fights well; Shield is protected against front gunfire and explosions, but is susceptible to melee; Agent Fergie has strong melee and guns and can roll to reduce damage, but also suffers from the same recoil problems that Assaulter has; Recon is silent and fast, able to highlight enemies and boost team damage; Off-Duty Guy has cool hunter gear and grumpy one liners.
Players are not married to the class they choose at the outset – in fact, Door Kickers rewards experimentation and expects players to try out the various classes. You can switch classes between levels, or replay each level with every class, gaining experience along the way.
Experience is awarded based on levels completed, enemies killed, hostages rescued, etc. Even if you die in a particular level you will gain some experience, eventually culminating in a level-up and Skill Points.
The Skill Points are gained at a rate of two per level-up, with the player level cap for each class currently resting at 17. Points gained can be used to either boost Team Skills – which applies to all classes – or Class Skills which are specific to that particular class.
Team Skills consists of Physical and Logistics. Physical increases health and awards various defense boosts while Logistics improves the rate at which strategic points are gained.
Class Skills include Accuracy, Recoil, Tactics, and others depending on class. Mainly, they help your character deal damage, resist attacks, have better accuracy, and less recoil.
I dumped all my points into health, accuracy, and recoil and by the end of the 72 levels I was essentially a tank, but there is no harm in testing out the various level-ups as you can reset points at any time and even remove points gained by one class to use on another class. While not groundbreaking, the Skill Point system does reward players who stick to one character for long periods of time and will help you slowly become essentially the SWAT version of a Terminator.
Door Kickers Action Squad is split into 6 episodes, each with 12 levels. There is also a bonus challenge episode with 12 levels. The levels are always one of four scenarios: Rescue the hostages, take out all terrorists, serve arrest warrants, or defuse bombs. The most common you’ll encounter are the rescue the hostages and take out terrorist missions, but there are one or two of each of the other scenarios per episode.
No matter the scenario, the gameplay is essentially the same. You are a SWAT team member and your goal is to clear out all obstacles in a given area. You can kick doors in, use charges to breach doors, lob grenades down shafts, confuse enemies with flash bangs, call in sniper support, and so much more in order to accomplish your objective. Each kill, rescue, arrest, or bomb defused gives you strategic points which can be used during the level to replenish your armor or gear, spawn a medkit, respawn fallen teammates, gain an extra life, or use your special ability.
These strategic points add a much needed layer or complexity to the proceedings and are about the only way you will be able to successfully manage the onslaught of enemies – at least when playing solo. I found myself saving my points to first gain an extra life, and then dumping anything else I received into replenishing my health or armor, with my focus being on my armor. It’s a simple, but effective, way to help you manage the levels.
As for your gear, you are able to choose a weapon, two pieces of gear, and a special ability at load out. Every item used in these slots costs stars, of which 1 to 3 are awarded upon every level completed depending on how well you accomplished that level’s goals. You can unlock various types of weaponry, grenades, flash bangs, breach charges, flak jackets, and more. Like your skill points, stars can be used to purchase items for any class.
As for the levels, they don’t vary much – sure, the landscape changes but the gameplay never deviates from: kick in door, shoot enemy, repeat. This isn’t a bad thing though, while Door Kickers Action Squad may not do much, what it does it does very well. I loved every second I spent fighting through the ever more ridiculous areas.
Thankfully, new enemy types do pop up as you progress. At first you may only see knife welding enemies and men with pistols, but as you continue on you will encounter snipers, machine guns, flamethrowers, bombs, booby traps, dogs, and enemies with ridiculously strong armor. Despite this, the game is never too challenging as long as you learn to take your time and prepare before every door.
Graphics and Replayability:
Door Kickers Action Squad boasts a retro inspired sprite style which is both charming and functional. A more realistic look would have pulled me out of the chaos. As such the game isn’t one you’d use to show off a new TV, but it perfectly fine for what it is. I particularly enjoyed the little background touches like Christmas trees you can light up or people playing video games in their bedrooms oblivious to the bloodshed outside their door.
This game was made with replayability in mind. Players can play solo, couch co-op, or online co-op. Every level can be played through with each class, effectively changing your whole strategy. When you grow tired of repeating the same levels you can test out either the Infinity Tower or Zombie Invasion Modes.
Infinity Tower is basically Die Hard in video game form. You enter a skyscraper on Christmas and proceed to fight your way up each level, surviving as long as possible. This mode limits the strategic points you can gain and as such, forces the player to adapt from any strategies they may have used on regular levels.
Zombie Invasion Mode is essentially the main game but with the addition of zombies which attack the player and enemies indiscriminately. On top of completing the level’s base goals, you must also close the portal allowing zombies to invade. A simple addition, but still fun.
I loved every minute of my time with Door Kickers Action Squad and would recommend that you give the game a chance as well. A charming blend of strategy and run and gun mixed with a neat retro inspired style makes Door Kickers Action Squad a fun way to kill 10 or so hours.
Door Kickers Action Squad was developed by Killhouse Games and was released on October 24th, 2019 on PS4 and Xbox One, and on October 28th, 2019 on the Nintendo Switch. A PC version was released last year. A review code for the Xbox One was provided by Killhouse Games.