Colossus Down from Mango Protocol (if their name isn’t familiar to you check out our developer spotlight here) a narrative adventure delivered through side scrolling strategic destruction featuring the characters from their Psychotic Adventures, Nika Allen (MechaNika) and Agatha Knife the eponymous hero of her own title. 

This review came about in a rather unusual manner, after developer Mango Protocol read our developer spotlight they offered to send us Colossus Down and well, we were delighted to accept. Not only that, I was personally added to Nika’s cool list, which has me wondering if I’m the only gaming journalist on there?

I think this means i’ve arrived!

Colossus Down features two playable characters Nika and Agatha, naturally this means you’ll want to play the game with a friend and of course the game features co-op play. Point of warning though, if you pick the game up on Nintendo Switch or Xbox it’s currently limited to couch co-op but Steam and Playstation has full online Co-op. This wouldn’t ordinarily cause much hassle but it did impact the speed of getting this review done as it proved tricky to play co-op in these pressing times (we had the game on Xbox). 

Nika…Inside’s a Mecha not a Robot!

Co-op play in some games can feel tacked on but in my opinion its the only way to play Colossus Down, players will decide between playing as Agatha or Nika, I opted for Nika (after all, I am on the cool list, and no, I won’t be letting that go) while my co-op partner took up the role of Agatha.

Agatha, adorable prophetess of carnivorism.

The reason Co-op is essential is that if you play the game solo, the other character isn’t present and you’ll miss out on some absolutely wonderful interactions between the two girls. Nika & Agatha may be friends but they are very much their own distinct characters and you’ll no doubt have a favourite. Having said that you really should have a favourite already, narratively Colossus Down is set after both MechNika and Agatha Knife (which are both set at pretty much the same time.) So, if you’ve not played both of those games stop reading this now and go do so, otherwise not only will this review contain many spoilers for those games (less so for Colossus Down) so will the game itself. It’s best to think of the three games as a trilogy, just one that mixes up genres for the third instalment.  

The core gameplay of Colossus Down will be instantly familiar unless you’ve been living under a rock for the entire history of gaming, there’s a screen, in the case of Colossus Down it’s full of decidedly uncool things and people (decided by Nika that is) use a mixture of basic attacks and special attacks to destroy them before moving on. Destroy and repeat until all the uncool is gone. 

Sounds simple right, well, Wrong. Mango Protocol could have just stopped there but they didn’t, as well as screen to screen destruction, there are also strategic boss fights, uniquely interesting puzzles and narrative choices that have meaningful impact on the game. In fact so meaningful are these choices it adds a huge amount of replay value to Colossus Down. Not to mention the multiple endings! I won’t spoil the endings here but I will say that after informing Mango Protocol that the review would be complete soon and detailing the ending I opted for, they called me ‘soft’, they aren’t wrong to be fair. However, what the multiple endings do show is just how three dimensional the main characters are, both Nika and Agatha are fully realised characters who by the end of what I’m going to call the Psychotic trilogy you’ll (if you’re also cool) be fully enamoured of them and be chomping at the bit for more adventure with them. 

This is true, Agatha has way more chill than Nika.

The reason I mention the depth of the characters is because it’s in compete juxtaposition to the hilarious parody in the game, some of the things Nika Allen hates…tired old repetitive game franchises, boring movies and TV, planned obsolesce, and you’ll spot many a comedic shot fired at some extremely recognisable franchises. To me the parody of tired old repetitive game franchises becomes more than mere parody and enters the realm of satire as you reach the end of that level and confront the being responsible for torturing us with uninspired annual releases.

Parody…parody everywhere.

Combat is fairly simply and doesn’t feel all that different at the basic level but each character has their own unique special moves, 4 each to be exact and bloody hell are these powerful. Being entirely honest Nika seems substantially more powerful than Agatha/The Great Bleeding pig. You unlock these powerful abilities but collecting scrap as you play. Not far into the game however you’ll be presented with a choice, it meta terms is basically the choice to limit yourself to three of the four abilities or play the rest of the game with Permadeath enabled.

That mask looks familiar.

As already discussed, I’m soft so I immediately sacrificed an ability (thankfully you get to choose which you lose out on) to allow me to respawn as many times as needed. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the game was easy given its adorable art style but this is far from the case, a screen full of foes is more than enough to take you out of action unless you come to grips with the combat fairly quickly. In terms of health, you have a bar that represents damage taken, take too much damage and boom, MechaNika goes bye bye. You can collect health items (tasty pop for Nika and fittingly meat for Agatha) that are stored in a reservoir of health, you can empty this reservoir to heal the damage taken, another interesting mechanic is that as the damage bar reaches about 75% you’ll be unable to use your special abilities until you heal yourself below 75%. To balance the power of these special abilities using them adds to your damage bar so don’t think you can run around spamming them for an easy win. 

This ability is so powerful it’s almost broken.

While the games difficulty firmly represents a challenge Collosuss Down isn’t free from frustration, namely platforming, one level is solely responsible for this frustration and that’s “Pixel Island”, a loving slap in the face to modern trend of games looking ’16-bit’ and the idea that this gimmick is somehow cool (it’s not, Nika would know) is almost ruined by an insanely frustrating platforming section. It’s a challenge when playing solo but the vanishing platforms seem to be trigged by the leading player character, which often results in the co-op player plummeting to their doom, to bypass this we just let the 2nd player die and worked our way through the section. 

Yes Nika, yes they are.

I could sit here a talk all day about my love for Psychotic Adventures, Nika, Agatha and Mango Protocol but to sum up Colossus Down is an exciting and brave change of both pace and genre for the developers. 

In a world full of annually released re-skins and publishers who are afraid to try something new I firmly believe that while Colossus Down isn’t perfect, Mango Protocol should be praised for taking a bold step in a new direction. If you share the misgivings about the state of the gaming industry and the AAA crowd pushing out the same buggy, unfinished, repetitive nonsense then I urge you to purchase Colossus Down and join Nika and Agatha in doing something about it…plus Mecha are cool…and are entirely different to robots!