How many times have we saved the galaxy now?
I must start off by saying that I have been a big fan of 10tons’ work on the Xbox One thus far. Both King Oddball and Neon Chrome were excellent games that have managed to stay around the top of my Xbox playlist. So I was understandably excited to hear that they were now having a go at the shoot ‘em up genre with a new title called Xenoraid. With this game they were promising us a retro-inspired shooter with classic game mechanics and a smattering of original features. I’m pleased to report that in the most part they pulled it off too, so I will endeavor to go into more detail about just what Xenoraid offers that other games don’t.
In essence the basic gameplay is very similar to something like Namco’s classic Galaga. Alien ships appear from the top of the screen in formation and it’s your mission to shoot them all down and save the galaxy – no mean feat. Where the first original feature comes in is just how you go about this. Before you start the game you are presented with four seemingly identical ships. These craft can be fitted out with different weapons and upgraded in many different ways, but first you have to earn the money to do this. Once the game starts these different craft can be switched between at any time by pressing one of the four face buttons. Each ship has its own energy bar and weapons meter, which you must keep an eye on intently. If a ship is low on energy then switch, thus saving the ship for another day. If your weapons are overheating then switch, let them recharge and then you can switchback if you wish. Switching between ships is probably the most integral part of Xenoraid.
There are two types of upgrades in Xenoraid. The first of these allows you to take the money you collect from shooting down the enemy fleets and use it to upgrade or repair your existing ships and weapons. The second option is to save your hard earned cash to develop new weapons and ships that can replace your existing ones. All this is done from a simple control panel that appears in between levels. The money must actually be collected manually and appears floating in space after you destroy enemy formations and special asteroids, so you have to make sure that you don’t let it get away. If you do manage to get one of your ships destroyed during a mission you can also use your money to replace them. Other upgrades come in the form of things like shields and extended energy bars to help preserve your life force.
Your ship is always equipped with several types of weapons to deal with different types of baddies, for example keep the rockets and bombs for the bosses and larger craft while using the lasers and guns to take out the smaller ones. All your weapons are operated using the shoulder buttons. One nice feature of Xenoraid that you can not just move your ship around the whole screen, but also aim in the direction you want to shoot, making it much easier to avoid enemy fire. Of course, if you want to increase the firepower on offer even further you can team up with up to three other players in the co-op mode and take on the alien invasion together! Another great feature of Xenoraid is that it features two quite distinct ways to play the game; either a mission based story mode or survival mode where you are trying to rack up the most points you can before you die.
With over forty different missions to work through, a huge amount of different enemies to discover, and the vast upgrade options Xenoraid is a game that’s going to hold your interest for some time to come. The couch co-op mode works a treat and just improves this slice of good old arcade action even further. While Xenoraid certainly isn’t pushing any boundaries when it comes to graphics and sound it’s the gameplay that remains the real winner here. What first seems like a pretty simple game grows on you very quickly and at under a tenner you cannot fault the value of the product either. Xenoraid is just the kind of shoot ‘em up I have been waiting for. So if, like me, you are also bored of bullet hell shooters and memorizing attack patterns and just want some good old fashioned blasting then Xenoraid is the game for you.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC ; Publisher: 10tons Ltd. ; Developer: 10tons Ltd. ; Players: 1-4 ; Released: 08/11/2016 ; ESRB: E for Everyone ; MSRP: $9.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Xenoraid given to HeyPoorPlayer by 10tons Ltd.