Published on November 19th, 2023 | by Adrian Gunning
UFO Robot Grendizer – The Feast of the Wolves Review (PC)
Summary: An enjoyable, if basic experience that remains faithful to the TV show it’s based on, unfortunately let down by some serious performance issues.
Fun but simple
I’m not very familiar with the tv show that UFO Robot Grendizer – The Feast Of The Wolves is derived from, but the chance to pilot a giant mech in a bright and colourful world, beautifully evocative of the era it was originally created, was too good an opportunity to miss.
The plot loosely follows that of the original 70s tv show following the adventures of Daisuke and his mission to stop King Vega and his minions from taking over the planet, with gameplay that is split into 3 distinct areas. The majority of time is spent piloting the titular Grendizer in small, pseudo-open world areas filled with enemies, collectables, and side missions.
There are six of these different areas, ranging from the open fields of the plains to a ruined Tokyo, each with their own theme, missions, and things to find, each culminating with a boss fight at the end. Admittedly most of these missions are go to a place and punch a thing when you get there, but there a few different types to mix it up a little. An early mission sees you putting out fires on a farm and later you’re tasked with saving a city’s water supply from contamination.
Enemies are scattered throughout these areas, awarding exp and upgrade materials when defeated, these materials along with the collectables serve as the currency required for the games upgrade system. It’s simple and doesn’t take a particularly long time to max out all the different options, most of which being damage upgrades or new abilities to use in battle.
Time in these areas is predominantly spent in combat with various robot enemies that are thrown at you. The move set isn’t particularly expansive, consisting of a light attack, heavy attack, dodge roll and a variety of special attacks that can be performed once a meter is filled. It’s a basic system, but not so shallow as to be unenjoyable. Once all of the different abilities have been unlocked there’s enough options to keep the combat varied, allowing players to mix up how they approach enemies for the most part even if they’re likely to gravitate to one or two combos that work the best.
Unfortunately, the enemies themselves have pretty basic AI and don’t have nearly enough variety to make the most of the unique abilities the player is equipped with. The one exception being the heavy units that occasionally show up, these require a specific set of attacks to be used to break a shield, rendering them invincible until this is completed. It can be used to create interesting scenarios where target prioritisation is required to efficiently remove foes, when it otherwise wouldn’t be necessary.
The second of the gameplay styles takes place in flying stages, mostly similar to those found in Star Fox, but occasionally from a top down perspective, mimicking bullet hell games, albeit far easier than what the genre is known for. They’re effectively rail shooter levels with the player moving around the screen shooting enemies and avoiding obstacles, with the general navigation being taken care automatically. Finally, we have simple top-down, on foot levels, taking place in small, walled off areas. These are primarily used to move the story forward between missions, along with being a quiet place to upgrade Grendizer.
All of this is presented in a visual style that seeks to mimic the original animated tv show. It modestly succeeds at this, everything is bright, colourful, and cartoon-like, and conversations between the various characters take place using large portraits that have a texture to them, almost as if they were stills taken directly from the show, it does a remarkably good job at sucking you into the world.
This is twinned with a soundtrack that evokes the original 70s material, it really is very pleasant, if used a little too infrequently. Voice acting however, is a mixed bag. The characters don’t often gel together all that well, it’s almost as if all of the different lines were recorded separately, something that isn’t that uncommon due to scheduling, but without the context of what was said before. It sounds fragmented and disjointed and has a bit of an uncanny valley feeling to it sometimes.
UFO Robot Grendizer isn’t without issues though, and the PC versions is stuffed to the brim with them. Some are noticeable but ultimately harmless such as items popping in or changing LOD very close to the camera, with others being far more serious and detrimental to gameplay.
It does not perform well, even on a high end system. The frame rate drops whenever something new is loaded into the scene, and as enemies teleport in regularly, this happens often. It isn’t just a few fps either, it’s regularly into the teens and can become borderline unplayable at times. One mission in particularly tasks Grendizer with destroying rocks blocking the path forward, the icons used to highlight these rocks dropped the game to single digits the entire time they were on screen.
I had audio drop out on several different occasions, sometimes it came back on its own and sometimes it required a full restart of the game to restore it. Missions can lock up at the end of cutscenes, with the only way forward being to ALT+F4 the game and retry the mission from the beginning, hoping that you get through it this time. This is actually an issue that stopped me playing due to not being able to progress beyond a certain point towards the end of the game, effectively soft locking me into that part of the campaign.
All in all, UFO Robot Grendizer is a solid, if not overly deep experience. A story faithful to the source material and enjoyable combat that is let down by some serious performance issues. The developers, Endroad, have stated that they’re aware of the issues and have some patches planned to address them. Hopefully they can fix the problems because right now they’re too detrimental for it to be worth the price of admission.