FOAMSTARS | Feature Image

FOAM STARS | logo art

Developer(s): SQUARE ENIX
Platform(s): PlayStation 4/PlayStation 5
Release Date: TBA

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In the waning hours of PAX West, I was able to queue up to try out FOAMSTARS at the SQUARE ENIX booth, and I found quite the fun multiplayer shooter that is anything but a Splatoon clone.

First, the basics: FOAMSTARS is a multiplayer title where you pick a character, go into an arena in one of several game modes, and shoot at each other. The guns you use are filled with colored foam that reminded me a lot of soap suds. The mode we were able to try at PAX West was four-on-four and called ‘Smash the Star.’ In Smash the Star, your team tries to kill off seven of the opposing team. Once that happens, one of their members is marked as the ‘star’ and gets buffed up some. If your team can knock out their star before their team can knock out your star, then your team wins! There is also a gameplay element that the foam can stack up on each other. This means that if you are strategic, you can help barricade part of the course to be a lot less friendly to the opposing team with how you shoot your foam out.

FOAMSTARS | Blue foam covering the field.
In FOAMSTARS, you play as characters who shoot colored foam in a brightly colored, neon-dripping, world. (Images courtesy of SQUARE ENIX).

FOAMSTARS | Pink foam everywhere in arena.

During the entire time I was demoing FOAMSTARS, the one thought that kept going through my mind was how amazing the soundtrack was. It had that cozy lofi/chillhop with a bit of pop feel to it that will have an easy future as part of a gaming music’s YouTube streaming channel. It is rare that I play a demo and think ‘Oh, I am buying this soundtrack,’ but FOAMSTARS did it for me. I really, really hope SQUARE ENIX will put it out for me to purchase at some point in the future, or at least on a streaming service.

The graphics are quite gorgeous and uniquely stylish too. In my FOAMSTARS demo, the world, characters, and foam all popped with neon colors that really stood out against the darkened environment. FOAMSTARS is clearly one of those games that you will be able to tell what it is just by glimpsing a little bit of the gameplay. The stark contrast in colors also made it incredibly easy to tell your team’s foam color from your opponent’s foam colors. And honestly? I loved it.

FOAMSTARS | Painting the environment pink and green.
The colors really stand out in FOAMSTARS, and it would be nearly impossible to mistake the graphics as from a different game. (Image courtesy of SQUARE ENIX).

Of course, FOAMSTARS rises and falls based upon the gameplay itself. During the two rounds I played, I purposefully picked out two characters that had wildly different gameplay styles. First, I tried out the Baristador, who carried a portable cannon-like device. This character worked better at a range, as I would be able to shoot at opponents further away from me and I found myself quickly adapting a more supportive role to my teammates who were shooting up close with other characters. In my second round, I played Soa. She is a close-range weapon user who fires her foam from pistol-like weapons. With her, I naturally found myself pressing hard against the other team in order to kill them as soon as possible. Each character also has to reload their weapon with foam occasionally, and that is accomplished by hitting a controller button.

FOAMSTARS | Character roster
FOAMSTARS has a lot of different characters to play as, and each plays differently in the game. (Image courtesy of SQUARE ENIX).

It would have been very, very easy to make these characters more or less clones of each other and make them fairly interchangeable. Instead, SQUARE ENIX smartly made the characters, at least these two, have wildly different strengths. I tried at one point to charge in with the Baristador, and I found myself getting slaughtered almost immediately. I also tried to hang back with Soa, and I found her to be completely useless at a range. This diversity in combat roles will only serve to enhance the overall gameplay and ensure that people cannot just spam one type of character and win it all over and over again. And in fact: in the second match, my team had a variety of roles on it, and we faced a full four-person Soa team. While it did get close at times, we ultimately did wipe out the Soa team because they simply didn’t have an answer for those of us who were hitting them from a distance.

The controls handled well, and I was mostly pleased with how the foam shooting went. I did die quite a bit, though I freely admit that I absolutely deserved it when I did. By the time the second match rolled around, I was even able to get a few kills myself. If there was anything I didn’t like, it just was that sometimes I felt like the foam ran out a little too fast, and I hated having to reload- even though that was quick as well. I also took my time to stack up the foam, and although it sometimes felt like I was just building into a foam mountain, it absolutely had a purpose in helping to hinder the opposing team on the field’s movement.

When you first see the gameplay, your mind will go to the other multiteam shooter game out there: Splatoon. Having spent way too many hours playing Splatoon, I can safely say that these two games play nothing alike. In Splatoon, Nintendo made the focus of the game to be covering the arena with as much paint as possible in various modes while shooting the opposing team is a secondary measure to help hinder their progress. In FOAMSTARS, just from my short demo, I could tell that the opposite was in effect: you were to spend your time hunting down and killing off your opponents, and the environmental effects were just a side effect of you shooting out foam. In broad strokes, these two games are different from each other in such a large way that it would be hard to confuse the two.

I am pretty excited to see what modes FOAMSTARS has when it releases, as the overall game is deceptively simple to learn yet clearly is not so simple to fully play. There will be inevitable comparisons to Splatoon, but the emphasis on combat and the potential for vertical foam-building makes this game anything but a copycat. Instead, FOAMSTARS manages to stand on its own as an independent title. Unfortunately, the game does not have a release date yet. If the end product is anything like the demo, then it will be hard to not recommend it to everyone.

What do you think of FOAMSTARS? What kind of modes do you hope to see in the game?

Let us know in the comments below!

Quentin H.
I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it.