One of the things that has always bugged me about 2D shooters is the fact that, logically, the player’s ship should be able to dodge enemy bullets easily. In space, you’re not confined to two dimensions: you’re supposed to move in six degrees, especially if flight and zero-gravity circumstances are concerned. It is of course due to hardware limitations that the shooting genre took shape as it did, but even when computers became powerful enough to render a truly three-dimensional space, we still didn’t get many shooters with a truly tiltable axis. Thankfully, the concept eventually saw the light of day with the release of a sweet little indie titled Revolver360 RE:ACTOR, which shall henceforth be shortened to Revolver360.
This whimsically-titled game sees players navigating a ship in a cylindrical playing field. Enemies come from all sides and all angles, and you can rotate the perspective in order to fly under a wall of bullets or line up enemies for a perfect, all-encompassing shot. Also, different pathways will be available depending on your view, what the game terms “junction points”. At specific spots in the playing fields, players are prompted to choose one of multiple paths that branch in a three-dimensional perspective. Coming to terms with this thinking is essential for survival and also opens up many options for multiple playthroughs.
Revolver360‘s ship is equipped with both the standard, projectile-based fire mode and a railgun-like laser that obliterates entire lines of enemies in one, very satisfying shot. There’s also a chance to nullify enemy shots, which is always handy in such chaotic shmups. Certain enemies can be shot while others must be dodged, ensuring that players are always juggling their weapons with moving around the Z-axis. And as is standard in such a shooter, picking up recharges and repair bonuses is crucial, not just for survival but for ranking up multiplier bonuses.
Also standard is the length and level roster. While not very big in actual level count, it does require a considerable amount of trial-and-error play to work your way through. Playing this one beginning to end multiple times is mandatory, especially if you wish to unlock all the achievements and earn a spot on the high score list. It’s tempting to fault it for not including more levels, but the replay value more than makes up for it.
It is at this point that I should mention that you’d best tackle this one with a controller. That recommendation doesn’t come out of a desire to make the experience more arcade-y: it really is far easier to control the ship and the Z-axis with a handful of buttons than to fall back and fumble on the keyboard layout.
One of the most striking aspects of Revolver360 is the visuals. It’s… very blue. I mean, extremely blue. Most of the game is drenched in a bright, pale, neon blue tone that gives the game a very unique look and atmosphere. It seems at once like a throwback to classic cyberpunk sensibilities yet somehow unique and fresh. It can also be quite an overload to the senses, with the audio and bright visuals bombarding the player with dense input, but it remains a fantastically trippy experience.
Revolver360 is quite a hard little beast, but the vibrant, neon visuals, killer upbeat electronic soundtrack and undeniable “just-one-more-try” quality will keep you returning for more punishment. It’s well-executed and it definitely deserves a lot more attention. If you’re a fan of Ikaruga and you feel like you haven’t had the same challenge in a very long time, you need to get this as soon as possible. Various shmups have tried different gimmicks, and this is a sterling example of one such experiment that works. Grab it from its official Steam page here.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed) ; Publisher: AGM PLAYISM ; Developer: Cross Eaglet ; Players: single-player ; Released: 24 October, 2014.
Full discloure: this review is based on a retail copy of Revolver360 RE:ACTOR.