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Foamstars review- Good, but won't give Splatoon players FOAMO

Sam Cawley

Published 
| Last updated 

Foamstars review- Good, but won't give Splatoon players FOAMO

Featured Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Foamstars, also known as PlayStation’s attempt at a Splatoon game, is the latest Sony exclusive doing the rounds online. While the comparison to Nintendo’s third-person shooter isn’t entirely inaccurate, Foamstars does enough to stand out from the crowd.

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It’s an arena shooter where teams of four compete to be the last ones standing, done by “foaming up” your opponents a certain number of times before having a chance to win the match.

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Unlike games like Splatoon, once you’ve hit enemy players enough they’re not out of the game just yet. Hitting them with enough encases them in a foam bubble where they’ll roll around defenceless and unable to fight back. When this happens you either need to finish them off by sliding into them, which knocks them out of the arena, or wait for them to explode which achieves the same effect. If one of your teammates is foamed up you can perform a rescue by sliding into them before the other team does.

Players do respawn after death, but once your team has hit seven deaths one of your players will become “the star.” This gives them a power and defence boost but also highlights them to other players, and if they’re foamed and knocked out your team loses the match. The goal is to foam the other team and eradicate their star player before they do the same to you, and it’s great fun.

The gameplay loop is simple but enjoyable, especially when playing with a group of friends. I was surprised by just how tactical games could get, as when your team disbands to different parts of the arena things can quickly get out of hand. Sticking together as a group and focusing fire on one enemy, or acting as human shields for our star player quickly became key tactics for a win, as well as keeping an eye out for allies who were in need of a rescue.

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Foamstars- Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Foamstars- Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

To turn the tide of battles you’ll have to choose your character carefully. Asides from having their own unique designs, each character has a different weapon and abilities that make them stand out. For instance, my character was Mel T, who could launch foam bubbles that locked onto opponents and followed them till they hit their target. The downside was the bubbles were very slow, meaning my best position was at a distance or high up where the enemy time couldn’t see me as well. Other characters have different fire rates, ammo capacities and other perks too meaning you can put together some pretty powerful teams if you know their strengths and weaknesses.

Players are also given three abilities, all of which charge up as you play a match. Most abilities are best used when going on the offensive but some can make a great defence as well, like Mel T’s which can rain a line of foam onto the arena. Not only could this hit multiple targets at once but it could also be used as a wall to block them if they advanced too quickly. Then you have your super move, which is often an enormous power designed to take out as many players as once, best used sparingly and saved for when the time is right.

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It was good to experiment with different characters, but I found picking your favourite and sticking with them to be the best chance of winning games consistently.

Foamstars- Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Foamstars- Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

That being said online matches can quickly become boring, especially this early in the game’s life when there isn’t much in the way of game modes and other content. At the time of writing, there’s the basic PvP mode, Ranked versions of that same mode, a Rubber Duck escort mode which isn’t always available and a PvE mission mode you can play by yourself or with your friends. These are fun for a time, but I think longevity is this game’s biggest problem so far. When I played with friends it was an absolute blast, but I can’t help but think that was only because of the social element because whenever I’ve played solo I’ve often found myself wondering why I’m not playing another game after a while.

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Another big problem is the in-game economy. It’s chock full of microtransactions and while, in fairness, they’re all related to customisation items the game doesn’t let you forget they’re there. Now if this was a free live-service game like Fortnite or Apex Legends you could probably forgive it, but Foamstars costs £29.99 to buy and own. At the moment it’s one of February’s free PlayStation Plus games, but when the selection changes in March and new subscribers can’t claim it for free the game’s full price combined with the costly battle pass and other cosmetics will likely turn away a lot of potential players. Again, the microtransactions are purely cosmetic so it’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’d sting a lot less if there was some sort of in-game currency to earn through gameplay to take to the store, rather than having to use your own money.

Back to the good stuff, Foamstars looks absolutely gorgeous. I really dug the Vegas-style aesthetic, and the idea that all matches are like a broadcast TV game show is a fun touch to a multiplayer experience, though you can also draw another comparison to Splatoon there. Regardless, the game is loud, bombastic, and colourful, and the foam itself looks oddly satisfying though the lack of explanation for what it actually is and where it comes from is a bit distressing to think about… By the end of the match the arena is a vivid and gorgeous canvas of pastels which is wonderfully illuminated by all the neon lights surrounding it. Again the character designs are unique and distinct from one another, and they fit the art style well despite looking a little anime-like at times. It’s also worth pointing out that some visual parts of the game, the art used for in-game soundtrack albums, was made using AI. Without getting too deep into the politics I really don’t think AI creation tools have a place in games so it was disappointing to see such a big release use it, even if it was only used for minor visuals.

Foamstars- Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Foamstars- Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

The soundtrack is also a bop, and while there aren’t many memorable tracks, as well as an odd lack of menu and hub world music, they complement the game show style. They’re upbeat, chaotic and at times, intense, so when you’re coming towards the end of a difficult match the music is a welcome addition to the craziness happening on screen.

Overall Foamstars is a fun third-person shooter, and must-play for those with PlayStation Plus as once it disappears from the service in March the only way to play will be buying it at full-price, which at the moment isn’t worth it in my opinion.

I think all the comparisons to Splatoon are a bit unfair though. While you can certainly draw similarities I think there are things Splatoon does better, like customisation and singleplayer, but there are also things that Foamstars does better, playing online with your friends. While they both share the same gameplay loop of “spray ominous liquid at stuff,” Splatoon is obviously more about area control and movement denial, whereas Foamstars is very much a PvP experience, you have to take out the other team if you want to win.

Foamstars is well-worth checking if you’re simply a fan of the genre or if you can cobble together a group of friends to play it with. At the time of writing this review there really isn’t much to encourage solo play unless you want to fill out the game’s battle pass, meaning prolonged gameplay can quickly feel boring and repetitive. Foamstars shines the brightest when you’re on a call with buddies barking orders, calling for help and chastising each other for throwing a game, all in good spirits of course.

Pros: A fantastic game to play with friends, gameplay can be exciting and surprisingly tactical, graphics and art style are both stunning and vibrant

Cons: Limited game modes, no earnable in-game currency makes microtransactions annoying, can quickly become boring if playing solo

For fans of: Splatoon, Fortnite, Helldivers II

6/10: Good

Foamstars is available now for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 (version tested). Review code was provided by the publisher. Read a guide to our review scores here.


Topics: PlayStation, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Sony, Playstation Plus

Sam Cawley
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