Foamstars: A Unique Blend of Strategy and Fun in Third-Person PVP Shooting

Foamstars game and EasySMX gaming controller

Foamstars, with its eclectic soundtrack and lifeless artistic style, has won the affection of many as a third-person PVP shooter game.

Just as in its brief yet tense single-player campaign, where you find yourself uneasy with the layout, you play as a Foamstar: a person capable of expelling foam-like bodily fluids to compete in the Foamsmash tournament, a series of competitive events located in the Las Vegas-styled city of Basvegas. Besides, this brutally harsh reality is never truly explained, but it does allow you to cover the ground with bubble bullets, altering the terrain of each arena, enabling you to perform cool actions like building foam mounds to jump onto opponents or isolate them from an objective.

Once you inflict enough damage to cool down your opponents, they will be covered in foam, rendering them nearly immobile until you rush towards them to finish the task. Conversely, if your teammate is all bubbled up and needs help, you can rush towards them to revive them from the brink of death—or rather, from being frozen. This little mechanic creates a different world by encouraging and rewarding aggressive gameplay.Foamstars game and EasySMX gaming controller

"Smash the Star" is positioned as the core mode of Foamstars, thus always available for play, while the other two standard options, "Happy Bath Survival" and "Rubber Duck Party," rotate on an hourly basis. Happy Bath Survival is undoubtedly the most unique mode offered by Foamstars: teams are divided into two, with half of each team facing off against each other in a condensed version of Smash the Star, while the remaining half from each team smears foam from above onto the map. Reducing the deathmatch to a two-on-two confrontation and extending the respawn time creates a more substantial, thrilling duel, but teammates continuously spraying water onto the battlefield. The foam adds a very interesting layer to this mode because you can use it to disrupt your opponents, defend, build a tower for your teammates, or just prevent another team from taking too much territory.

As for "Rubber Duck Party," this mode is a highly attractive and competitive tower control mode from Splatoon. Combining elements of king of the hill and capture the flag, you and your team need to control a small area on top of the duck, then ride it into the opponent's base. You need to stand in a small, elevated, and vulnerable area on top of the duck's head to capture it, which is a risky spot as it exposes you to nearly the entire map and almost certain barrage of foam. If you want to increase the stakes, you can hold down the "circle" button on the PS5 controller while your team controls the duck, allowing you to perform a short dance to increase its speed. Although Foamstars doesn't win any points for originality by closely replicating this mode, it remains a truly classic, time-tested mode that is equally fun here.

Unlike Foamstars' bleak predecessors, all three game types offer various ranked modes. Furthermore, due to unnecessary time restrictions, single-player and team ranked games cannot be used simultaneously.Foamstars game and EasySMX gaming controller

Each mode has its unique set of maps, rather than having a large number of maps that are slightly modified based on the mode you're playing, which is both a pro and a con for Foamstars. On one hand, it guarantees that every match is played in an environment specifically designed around that mode's mechanics—for example, the Fusion Roller Coaster Kingdom map, where you need to capture rubber ducks on high roller coaster tracks, forcing you to be creative if you want to gain an advantage or lead over other teams. On the other hand, each mode only has three to four available maps, and the limited options mean they quickly become stale. By comparison, some of Foamstars' larger maps also feel sparse. When foam on the ground isn't part of the objective, the wide lanes and open spaces overestimate the speed of foam accumulation, turning many map centers into no man's land rather than foam battlefields.

Foamstars features eight unique characters, and although each character has at least unique strengths and weaknesses that add diversity to the lineup and cater to different play styles. Soa, Foamstars' pop idol mascot, possesses great mobility, thanks to her ability to jump and dodge, allowing her to safely conduct offensive matches. On the other hand, Tonix has poor mobility but can lay down a significant amount of foam to help teammates, create better advantageous positions, or even set up turrets to support them.Foamstars game and EasySMX gaming controller

If you're not interested in PVP matches, you can also undertake missions with up to three other players to save Basvegas from the attacks of foam villains, which generally boil down to shooting gallery-style horde modes. Interestingly, the multiplayer versions of these missions add Roguelike progressions between rounds, allowing you to build around the strengths and weaknesses of characters in some very satisfying ways, making you feel like you're breaking its system while still facing challenges. Despite its simplistic setup, with wave after wave of enemies flying at you in the same boring square arena with no variation other than the foam you and your teammates lay down, the multiplayer version is surprisingly satisfying to your combative needs. The single-player version, however, serves as Foamstars' story mode and is so simplistic, I think I might have accidentally missed a difficulty setting somewhere in Foamstars' sluggish menu.

To me, mobility is the most important part of a shooter. From the creative platforming in Splatoon to the clever weaponized movement in Foamstars, all these games possess really cool movement.Foamstars game and EasySMX gaming controller

Foamstars' unexpectedly engaging combat mechanics, fast-paced matches, and cool music drew me in, but struggling through its bland single-player content and worrying aggressive monetization might gradually diminish interest. I also feel like I've seen all it has to offer, and its announced update schedule looks very slow for the current multiplayer game environment that's filled with decent options. Foamstars' ranked modes and maps may be exciting and nuanced in the match, but the confusingly restrictive time-limited queues around them don't offer much incentive to grind the ladder, leaving me with no reason to surf these foam waves no matter how fun they could be.