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[PS4] Headlander Review

Headlamder Review

Headlander from Double Fine and Adult Swim Games is a crazy sidescrolling game in a retro-futuristic setting. This one that takes us back to the 70s sci-fi style of stories… sorta. Are you ready to learn more about this outstanding Metroidvania? Then come read our Headlander review!


You are the last known human in the universe, and all that’s left of you is a disembodied head. Seeking clues to your fractured past, you must travel through a hostile world of machines, using a special helmet that allows you to dock into and take control of any robotic host body.

As you launch from one body to the next, you’ll start to discover that things are not quite what they appear to be, and the fate of humanity has yet to be decided…

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In a world gone wrong, humans have decide to transfer each and every one of their members into cold steel, making robots the new home of each. Everything is under the control of a single computer program and – plot twist – it turns out said computer program has gone a bit cuckoo. The program decides to control the robot bodies with special chips. Yeah, things are as bad as it sounds!

As the game begins, players are given the option of selecting one of three headlanders (one female and two male) to get their adventure going. Why is the game called Headlander? Because the main protagonist is a human head that has just left stasis and has no idea what is going on. Luckily a mysterious voice can be heard though the sound system and will help to guide us to the truth. His name is Earl, by the way. Oh, right, let’s get back to the game’s name. A couple of minutes in you’ll learn about the gameplay mechanic: using the L1 button to launch your head so that you can fly over to a new body… and land on it.

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The first but really second new body you land on will be of a red guard, and this will grant you access to its red laser gun. Once you get it, you can aim with the right analog stick and shoot with the R2 button. The next skill is precise aiming, which you can use by aiming with the right analog stick while holding the L2 button. This one will draw out a line that will let you know exactly where your shots will land. You’ll test it right away by shooting the head away from a potential new host below you. Speaking of that, if you receive damage, be sure to change into a new body so that you can go at it with a new health bar.

The next trick you’ll learn is rolling, which you use with the R1 button. Another handy option is the punch attack, which you trigger with the Circle button. While flying around as a head, you’ll also gain access to a vacuum ability to yank stuff out of the way. This comes in handy very early in the game so that you can remove a tube that is blocking your progress. Once you escape the first area in the game, you’ll gain access to a handy mini-map (which you can expand by pressing on the DualShock 4 Touchpad).

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At the second area in the game you’ll run into glowing energy that you can collect. Once you fill the bar, you gain an upgrade point. The first upgrade available to unlock is Melee Power, which increases the damage from melee attacks. This only costs one upgrade point, so it allows you to give the upgrade system a try. After unlocking this one, two more sub-upgrades show up for Melee+ and Melee++. As you can tell from the name, these let your hits pack a bigger punch.

There’s plenty to do in the game, and this can be seen in the Objectives screen which keeps track of everything you’re doing. If you want to 100% the game, you’ll have to find 298 rooms, complete 28 objectives and install 38 upgrades. Along with that, you’ll have to collect 15 helmet health powerups, 15 helmet power powerups, 15 helmet thrust powerups and drain a lot of energy.

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While exploring you’ll run into Mappy units where you can dock your head to extract valuable map data. This will let you see where you’re at and where you have to go. As a friendly tip, you should totally, I don’t know, attack and destroy a Mappy before extracting its map information. Trust me on that one. You’ll thank me later. Do it now. I’ll wait.

The game features a full trophy count with a Platinum trophy, and every single trophy other than the Platinum is a hidden trophy! There are 31 trophies in total (including the Platinum), and I won’t spoil any of the trophies here (a simple Google search might help you with that – wink-wink, nudge-nudge). I will tell you that other than the one trophy, there are no missable trophies in the game! You’ll end up with every single one of them in around 8-10 hours or so depending on how good you are at Metroidvania games.

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I loved my time with Headlander. It’s 70s sci-fi inspired aesthetic, tight Metroidvania gameplay and crazy “dock your head on other bodies” mechanics have been keeping me happy for a while. As I did my Headlander review I kept thinking about how varied Double Fine’s output is. The studio has given us adventure games, action games, Russian nestling dolls games, and games that are the most metal ever. I can’t wait to see what the studio does next, and I highly recommend that you give this one a go today.

pros=”Very fun Metroidvania with the Double Fine touch.
Quirky 1970s sci-fi feel.
Plenty of power-ups to unlock.” cons=”No complaints.” score=92]

This Headlander review is based on a PS4 copy provide by Adult Swim Games.