Square Enix’s Foamstars is a solid riff on Splatoon

It's quite similar, but certainly still enjoyable


When Foamstars was revealed during the recent PlayStation Showcase, a lot of people referred to it as “Splatoon with bubbles.”

Truthfully, that comparison isn’t without merit. Like the Nintendo-exclusive multiplayer shooter, Foamstars has a bunch of quirky, gun-equipped characters shooting at one another while coating an arena with a colourful material through which they can zip around and hinder opponents. However, Foamstars makes a few welcome tweaks to this formula to shake things up, based on my recent hands-on demo at Summer Game Fest Play Days in Los Angeles.

First, the aim of the 4v4 shooter, at least in the central Team Deathmatch-style mode, is to get seven kills. Do this and the opposing team’s top player will become marked, leading everyone to frantically gather around this player for one last push. While enemy bubbles damage you, the results of the match aren’t contingent on which team has covered more of the map with ink foam. (Although Square Enix promised other modes, I do appreciate those central differences in this mode for now.)

Instead, Foamstars puts more of an emphasis on foam placement for strategic purposes, and each character (“MVP”) has their own abilities — on top of standard weapon types like shotguns and burst rifles — to shake things up. One of these, for example, effectively lays out a “red carpet” of your foam to clear a straight path, while another creates a big vertical wall of foam. The two teams in my session consisted of a bunch of random media and content creators, so we weren’t exactly on the same page. That said, it’s easy to imagine how a more coordinated squad could have more of a plan regarding who to pick and how to use their abilities in conjunction with one another.

Foamstars combat

Even still, there’s a high-octane thrill to matches, especially when players momentarily have the ability to save one another when their health is depleted from exploding in a puff of foam. The anime-esque characters mostly look rather same-y and generic, but the variety of their weapons and abilities — and the use cases in between the two — is certainly compelling.

At the end of the day, the game does still feel fundamentally very similar to Splatoon, but having said that, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. After all, Splatoon is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, while Foamstars is on PlayStation and is clearly catering to a different audience. And while pretty much everything cribs from something else nowadays, Splatoon‘s core gameplay loop is still relatively novel, which will help Foamstars stand out among the crowd of battle royales and Destiny clones.

Foamstars combat

Instead, my bigger questions about Foamstars pertain to how the game will fare in the ever-saturated live service market. In particular, it’s unclear how well Square will support Foamstars with post-launch content and monetization, which can make or break a game like this. So far, the single map we got to play on was a pretty bland and flat Vegas-inspired environment, so hopefully, the final product offers more variety. Square Enix also hasn’t detailed Foamstars‘ single-player mode, and it wasn’t available in our preview.

For now, though, I’m intrigued by Foamstars and looking forward to learning more.

Foamstars doesn’t currently have a release window, although it’s confirmed for both PS4 and PS5.

Image credit: Square Enix