Housemarque, the Finnish developer behind Resogun and Dead Nation, hasn’t had the best year.
I visited its Helsinki headquarters back in September to see how the studio was following up Resogun, the surprise hit of the PlayStation 4 launch. What I found was a unique company struggling to hold on to the identity it believes in.
Housemarque made its name with Stardust. Originally released for the Amiga in the early ’90s, the series rose to prominence with the digital release of Super Stardust HD on the PlayStation 3. The studio has since become a specialist in digital-only games, almost all of which can trace their lineage back to the arcade.
The isometric shooter Dead Nation was the studio’s next big hit, going on to become one of the bestselling digital-only titles for PlayStation 3, while the Ikaruga-meets-Metroid platformer Outland was critically acclaimed. But it was during the launch of the PlayStation 4 that Housemarque would make the biggest impact.
Resogun took the basic premise behind the arcade classic Defender and turned it into a modern shooter. With cylindrical stages and a custom voxel-based engine, the game was by far the strongest PlayStation 4 exclusive of its time, and one of scant few highlights of the console’s November 2013 launch.