Published on November 7th, 2016 | by Sean Warhurst
Xenoraid PS4 Review
Summary: Xenoraid is competently built but lacks any real reason to actually compel you to play it.
In Space No-One Can Hear You Weep...
Xenoraid is the latest in a glut of indie retro-inspired bullet hell shoot-em-ups but does it expand upon the formula laid by its forebears or is it content to simply coast by on tried and tested mechanics?
The story is as threadbare and generic as you’d expect from a title like this, which understandably places far more of an emphasis on action rather than the narrative. The basic gist goes like this – Alien forces are threatening the safety of the planet and it’s up to you to put a halt to their nefarious doings.
This is achieved by taking control of one of four ships, with the ability to switch freely between them at will. The plot conceit behind this is that the alien armada has far greater technological capabilities than Earth’s defense forces, forcing us to convert old air vehicles into battleships that lack the advanced weaponry of our foes.
Taking control of an entire squadron helps even things out somewhat though, and an extra element of strategy is added through picking the optimal time to switch out to the next ship at your command, usually when you’re right on the cusp of exploding. Changing vessels also comes with another benefit, giving you a brief period of invulnerability immediately after the switch, meaning that it’s essential to master quickly switching out if you hope to survive the endless waves of enemies.
Taking advantage of these brief windows of invincibility also helps mitigate the fact that, unlike most other shmup games, the weapons in Xenoraid overheat if you fire too frantically; instead of answering the deluge of bullets with lead of your own, the emphasis here is much more on precision aiming and gracefully dancing through obstacles.
The controls take a bit to adjust to and, even then, they never truly feel as responsive as you’d like. Graphically, honestly, Xenoraid is a little bland, at times looking more like a flash game than a PSN title. It’s not that the ship and enemy designs are bad, exactly, it’s just that it all seems so visually uninspired. This would be kind of forgivable if the gameplay made up for the lack of visual flair but Xenoraid also manages to drop the ball in that respect as well.
With no power-ups to speak of and increasingly bland upgrades, gameplay devolves into circling about, lazily firing at enemies and then switching ships to avoid damage. The game never gets tough enough to offer a challenge to bullet hell fanatics, yet it’s too challenging for newcomers, occupying that weird space where it doesn’t really appeal to anyone.
There is multiplayer, allowing for up to four players to stave off encroaching alien forces but even throwing a friend or two in the mix fails to liven things up. Inane dialogue chatter doesn’t help either, making the entire experience feel more like an ordeal than an experience I would elect to do to unwind after a tough day in the coal mines.
Xenoraid is competently built but lacks any real reason to actually compel you to play it. The gameplay loop quickly becomes monotonous and, aside from quick bursts here and there whilst waiting for a download, I can’t see many gamers putting much time into conquering the alien attackers.
Is it great? No. Is it fun? No. But is it great fun? Err, well, no, of course not. That wouldn’t make any sense. It’s fun enough to pick up for a few hours if shmups are your cup of tea but it never really rises above being a mindless time filler.
Primary Format – PlayStation 4
Game Genre – Shoot-Em-Up
Rating – PG
Game Developer – 10tons LTD.
Game Publisher – 10tons LTD.
Reviewer – Sean Warhurst