Foamstars review - don’t worry about foam-o

Hey now, you’re (not) a foamstar

A screenshot of Foamstars.
(Image: © Square Enix)

TechRadar Verdict

Cute characters and a handful of promising ideas in its multiplayer matches do little to redeem Foamstars, which is spoiled by terrible solo missions, a lack of maps, and excessive monetization.


  • +

    Interesting combat mechanics

  • +

    Cute character designs

  • +

    Attractive art


  • -

    Truly atrocious solo offering

  • -

    Egregious monetization

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Review info

Platform reviewed: PlayStation 5
Available on: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4
Release date: February 6, 2024 

The latest game published by Square Enix, Foamstars is a colorful party shooter available exclusively on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. Included with a PlayStation Plus membership as a free monthly game from launch until March 5, 2024, the handful of interesting multiplayer mechanics on show might make it worth downloading if you’re a current PS Plus subscriber with literally nothing else to play.

It is simply impossible to recommend Foamstars in any other context though, as there is very little here to justify more than about an hour of your time at most. A lack of modes and maps lets down the PvP matches, while the unremittingly dull single-player missions are frankly painful to sit through. The PvE mode fairs a little better, with some unique power-ups to discover, but it is ultimately still far too repetitive to maintain interest.

To make matters worse, the game is awash with monetization, including a battle pass and shockingly expensive costume packs. Although this would be far more forgivable in a free-to-play title, it’s hard to imagine a future where the Foamstars bubble doesn’t pop once it fully transitions into a paid product.

 Fear and foaming

A Foamstars screenshot showing online combat in a colorful arena.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Set in the neon-lit city of Bath Vegas, Foamstars is at its best when you’re competing in its fast-paced PvP matches. As a contestant in the Foamsmash, you’re armed with a surfboard and a foam-powered weapon that spews brightly colored bubbles across the screen. These bubbles damage enemies, lathering them up until they enter a vulnerable ‘Foamed Up’ state where they can be ‘chilled’ (the game’s rather patronizing term for an elimination) with a quick hit from your surfboard.

Best bit

A Foamstars screenshot showing online combat.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Sliding into a foamed up enemy on your surfboard to secure the chill is a treat and easily one of the strongest combat mechanics in Foamstars.

Your streams also coat nearby environments with a bouncy layer of team-colored foam, providing some cover, a small degree of vertical elevation, and, far more significantly, the ability to slide around on your surfboard at a greatly enhanced speed. Foam from the other team, in contrast, hinders your movement by slowing your surfing down to a crawl. Given their mechanical similarities, the comparisons between the foam in Foamstars and the ink in Splatoon seem almost inevitable. 

Still, Foamstars contains some more unique ideas that help set it apart. For starters, Foamstars features a line-up of intriguing hero characters with their own distinct weapons and abilities. There’s a solid variety in the current roster of eight heroes, from the close-range dual pistol-wielding speedster Soa to the foam stream-spewing Rave Breaker. They all have very distinct, eye-catching designs and getting to grips with their unique quirks is surprisingly engaging. 

My personal favorite of the bunch was Mel T, an adorable dessert-themed contestant who packs a powerful homing missile launcher. Sticking to the sidelines and foaming up opponents from a safe distance was a pleasant change of pace. Foaming up your opponents before smashing them out with your board has an enjoyable rhythm, but the bright colors and fast movement can make the action hard to follow in particularly hectic moments.

 Hold the foam

Single player modes in Foamstars.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

It’s unfortunate, as matches in Foamstars use a very condensed 4v4 format that, in theory, should make things more easily understandable. There are three PvP modes available right now: Smash the Star, Happy Bath Survival, and Rubber Duck Party. Rubber Duck Party is a basic objective-based mode in which teams fight for control of racing a rubber duck - with the winning team successfully getting the duck to the finish line the fastest. 

Smash the Star, on the other hand, is a bizarre take on a team deathmatch that sees the highest performing player named the star player. The first team to lose a star player is defeated, and keeping your star protected makes for quite a tense team-based challenge. Happy Bath Survival switches things up entirely by placing two players from each team outside of the arena, supporting their teammates with showers of colored foam. It takes place over a maximum of three rounds, with the team to win the most declared victor.

Happy Bath Survival is definitely the most engaging, but, unfortunately, matches in all three modes can feel extremely brief and often only last for a couple of minutes. While this does prevent them from ever seeming like a drag, being repeatedly booted back out into the small hub area in order to sit through a lengthy queue for a new game soon becomes grating. 

It also pushes some of the more flagrant attempts at monetization to the forefront, with one of the few hub activities being staring at the various costume packs, some of which are priced at the almost comically high price tag of $44.99 / £36.99, available in the in-game store. 

The fact there are only three PvP modes in total is also a shame. There are just a few very basic maps to master,  which immediately detracts from the replayability of each mode. With the sole exception of a refreshingly unique casino-inspired map that features a giant spinning roulette wheel, the barrage of plain arenas quickly begins to blend into one.

A screenshot of a story cutscene in Foamstars.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Outside of PvP, there are also 18 single-player Foamstar missions to tackle. They each focus on different characters, but all follow the same laughably simple format in which successive waves of dull enemies slowly advance towards an unstable reactor in a literal straight line in a bland, boxy environment.

Accessibility features

Accessibility in Foamstars.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Foamstars features the option to enable basic subtitles, turn on a colorblind mode, and freely change the controller button configuration. 

Irritating, awkwardly written dialogue plays out almost constantly while this is occurring and, aside from the odd appearance of a charming illustration and one highly concerning moment that seems to suggest the game’s foam is in fact a bodily fluid secreted by one of the characters, it all feels like pointless filler.

There are also incremental upgrades that can be bought using currency earned from each successful mission, but its benefits are so minor that the whole system can be safely ignored entirely. The online PvE mode thankfully fares better, as it brings three other players into the equation and introduces a much more engaging upgrade system that sees more substantial buffs awarded between waves. These range from small stat improvements to extra projectiles and even turrets, which, while nothing particularly special, mercifully reduces the sense of monotony to a more tolerable level.

On the whole, while the PvP component does have a few things to offer, I can only hope that future seasonal content updates will go some way to help bring the rest of the package up to par. Foamstars is, as it stands, a huge disappointment and a real waste of that multiplayer potential.

If you’re craving more games to play, see our guides to the best free games or the best FPS games for some top picks. 

Dashiell Wood
Hardware Writer

Dash is TechRadar Gaming's Hardware Writer. Before joining TechRadar, he was a print journalist writing articles for some of the UK's biggest gaming magazines including PLAY, Edge, PC Gamer, and SFX. Now, when he's not getting his greasy little mitts on the newest hardware or gaming gadget, he can be found feverishly devouring the latest Nintendo Switch otome.