Earlier this month I played a game that felt, in the best of ways, like a side-scrolling Halo. Mixed with Metroid and some Shadow Complex.

The game, Fallen Frontier, should feel a little like Halo. Three of the four people making the game at start-up Moonshot Games used to work on Halo games at Bungie Studios. If you watch the video, you'll see the Metroid influence. This is a side-scrolling game set in a world that is mapped with right angles. Unlike Metroid, the gameplay focus is on guns, and two-player co-op is supported. I played it with Michael Bastien, one of the ex-Bungies at Moonshot.

You get a grappling hook and swappable guns. You can swing from beam to beam or pull guys at you, then shotgun them at close quarters for a quick kill. Your health re-charges, and you're a dude in armor. Some of that might seem Halo-y to you, some of it not. But the Halo feel emerges in how the game plays. Bastien explained that the game's mini-map intentionally shows more than the currently viewable area, allowing players to plan their tactics. The enemies are smart — maybe not as smart as the Covenant on Halo 3 Legendary — but will be smarter than the average video game enemy, thanks to one of the Moonshot guys being one of the head artificial intelligence people on the Halo series. So you plan your tactics before facing these enemies and then should expect to have each encounter unfold dynamically enough that it doesn't repeat identically, if you play it again. Just like Halo. [Clarification for the commenters below: Just like Halo's campaign at high difficulty levels.] Skilled play involves mixing guns, grenades, and melee attacks (like Halo), plus grappling (not like Halo).

Fallen Frontier is not without its own identity. In 2D, it plays as more of a high-body-count game than Halo does. It looks darker and lovely. I was smitten by the wisps of architecture passing in the foreground.

The Fallen Frontier demo I played was about as brief as the video you can see atop this post. The game's early, not planned for release until the first half of 2012. Bastien says Fallen Frontier doesn't have a publisher yet but hopes the game will be released for Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation 3's PlayStation Network and Steam.