10 best twin-stick shooters on Steam

A closer look at our pick of 10 of the best twin-stick shooters available right now on Steam.

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Neon Chrome (2016)

Neon Chrome is kind of like the twin-stick-shooter equivalent of Rainbow Six Siege. Where walls are usually used as cover in twin-stick shooters, Neon Chrome boasts a whole lot of destructibility. Translation: you can blast (and be blasted) through walls or through enemies. To sweeten the deal, Neon Chrome also offers procedurally generated levels, with the option to upgrade your character whenever you die (which’ll likely happen quite a bit).

Furious Angels (2015)

It’d be easy to write off Furious Angels as a shallow score-attack twin-stick shooter. Give it a chance, though, and there’s an impressive amount of depth. Chief among them is the requirement to target specific parts of hulking enemy ships. You could do the usual twin-stick dance of moving in one direction and shooting in the other, but that’s not as effective here. Furious Angels is simple to pick up and play, great in short bursts, and satisfying during intense high-scoring runs.

Versus Squad (2016)

From the minds behind Nation Red comes Versus Squad. Your first step is to build defences which, no matter how well-placed, will turn out to be inadequate during the second step: when you take on hordes of zombies. Versus Squad is definitely best played cooperatively (with up to three other people) to take advantage of the game’s class system. If you think battling thousands of regular zombies is tricky, wait until Versus Squad sends multiple bosses at you!

Nex Machina (2017)

Housemarque has an awesome reputation for making fantastic twin-stick shooters. That legacy continues (hell, it improves) with Nex Machina. This arcade-style twin-stick shooter blends fast and frantic gunplay with a Tron-like aesthetic. Despite the abundance of colourful on-screen madness, it’s a cinch to keep track of everything. This is essential because Nex Machina will put your reflexes to the test. The longer you survive, the more powerful you become. You’ll need that, too, because it doesn’t take long for Nex Machina to start kicking your arse.

Renegade Ops (2011)

Renegade Ops is what you get when you answer the question of what kind of game Michael Bay would make. The cheesy B-grade action movie story is the perfect backdrop for massive military-grade destruction. It plays just as well with a controller as it does with keyboard and mouse, which is a sweet explosive cherry on top of this delicious destructive cake. Plus, there’s support for two-player co-op and four-player online co-petitive play.

Assault Android Cactus (2015)

Ignore the nonsensical name, Assault Android Cactus is the business. Jump into the synthetic combat coots of one of nine unique characters and prepare to turn levels brimming with robotic hordes into spare parts. It’d be tough enough with the sheer number of enemies on screen, but it’s even tougher when your battery is counting down to empty. Grab up to three other mates to help stem the robotic tide, but prepare to be challenged, even with help.

Blacksea Odyssey (2016)

Taken at face value, Blacksea Odyssey is another twin-stick shooter. But the developer (which is, confusingly, also called Blacksea Odyssey) has thrown a whole lot more into the blender. Rogue-lite. RPG. Space-behemoth hunting simulator. Permadeath is the least of your worries in this punishing game world filled with tricky boss battles. Blacksea Odyssey isn’t one for the squeamish, mind you; despite its art style, you’ll be tearing limbs off epic space monsters.

Halo: Spartan Bundle (2015)

Why have one Halo: Spartan game, when you can have two? These bargain-priced twin-stick shooters are a cinch to pick up and play. You don’t need to be a fan of the Halo universe to get into them, and there’s plenty of fun to be had. It should go without saying, but you definitely want to use a controller instead of a keyboard/mouse (for all of the games in this list) for the Halo: Spartan games. As far as difficulty goes, this is one of the better series to start with if you’re just looking to get into twin-stick shooters.

Helldivers (2015)

If ever there was a co-op twin-stick shooter that’s sure to strain friendships, it’s Helldivers. You could play alone in this Starship Troopers-inspired game, but Arrowhead Game Studios doesn’t obey traditional difficulty levels. Supposedly moderately difficult worlds are bloody tough. Bring a friend, or random player/s, into the mix, and they’ll help complete objectives. But they also might accidentally shoot you in the back. Still, your dozenth death from friendly fire isn’t enough to hold back Helldivers from being as rewarding as it is punishing.

Gatling Gears (2011)

Gatling Gears is steampunk spliced with MechWarrior and a bit of Mad Max. Jump into powerful mechs and obliterate waves of enemies as you dance your way between and around incoming fire. If the default explosions aren’t big enough, chuck on some upgrades. And if you want to up the mayhem, drag in a friend (same-screen co-op or online) to tame the evil Empire.