By Gary Gray
Shoot ‘um ups are not in short demand at the minute on the Nintendo eshop.
But Xenoraid is a little different thanks to some clever mechanics.
Xenoraid is a classic style top down space shooter with some very modern twists. At first glance it may not look like anything new, but when you dive in, things are immediately different.
"the complexity and depth are a sure surprise."
One of the last things that might not run through your mind when you hear the words “space shooter” is management, but that's the real beauty of Xenoraid! Not only are you given four different spacecrafts that you can switch between on the fly during combat, but you have to keep an eye on not only the health, but also the ammo and overheating weaponry.
So say you lose one of your ships during a level, it's no big deal, it’ll be back on the next stage right? WRONG! Unless you buy another ship your left without, and don't forget to repair the other ship otherwise they’ll suffer the same fate. This is an ongoing theme for each section of the campaign, money you earn from each mission carries over to the next level, so be careful what you spend your money on! Unlike most economy based games there’s more to buy than you'll have money for, from upgrade that affect all ships, to individual weapons upgrades, shield upgrades and even the ability to buy and sell ships.
Playing each level will be different every time, as the enemy placement randomises, so gone are the familiar “learn the pattens” strategy that you can normally rely on when you fail a mission. The only familiarity is the mission's objectives, they’re pretty much exterminate the enemy every time, you actually see what is heading your way too, as the enemies ships are scanned and indicated by a counter on screen. Some of the bigger threats take some time to kill, and you have to plan out your attacks as the enemy don't just disappear when they go offscreen, they come back around until they’re totally wiped out so you don’t have to make any rash decisions.
Where the Visuals are clean and crisp, it makes it easy to keep track of everything that’s going on, it's the backgrounds that are a little lack luster. As a criticism, this is the only part of Xenoraid that is a little underwhelming. Almost static backgrounds can give you a nice feeling of being a million miles away from planet life stuck in space, but they also don’t ever make you feel like you're seeing anything new or going anywhere fast. Audio on the other hand is a highlight, Hearing the firing of the automatic weapons really gave me a feeling of power! Hearing the thumping gunshots and twagging Lasers were perfectly balanced with the electro background music, and even when gameplay gets chaotic it's never too overwhelming.
Trying it out for the first time I actually played Co-op with my little brother. The four ships that you choose from are actually shared. This made some screaming and shouting that every great multiplayer game has, as you have to know who's got what ship at all times and decide together where the money at the end of each missions going to go.
Xenoraid is a must own for anyone looking after a classic style space shooter with a modern edge. Micro managing and money management give Xenoraid a fresh edge that cuts through the traditions that other top down shooters have had before it, and the complexity and depth are a sure surprise.
Xenoraid is out now on the Nintendo Eshop for £8.99
Thank you to 10Tons for Supply us with a Review copy.