Xenoraid is a stereotypical indie budget title: you’ll play it for a few minutes, put it down, and then forget that you ever bought it in the first place. It is unfortunate, as I do believe that the game held quite a bit of potential as a vertical shooter. It seemed to have a unique enough identity to be worth the time, but it never actually delivered. Some repetitive design choices were its major downfall, but the ground work seemed solid enough to make it a good game at the least.
It’s not that the game is bad, per se, but it does get old very quickly. The gameplay formula is meant to be repetitive, but it has little to no variety outside of the different ship options you can choose from. It does present a unique idea, allowing you to switch through four different ships during battle. Despite this tweak, Xenoraid is just tiresome. The main mission mode will last you about 5 hours, which is much too long to be shooting at the same few enemies and dodging the same meteors every level.
Select your ships, destroy the enemies, dodge meteors, destroy some more enemies, and eventually reach a boss. Do this until the end of the game and then tackle survival mode, which is more of the same exact thing, but the end boss is your own edurance. You get the option to choose four different ships, and each can be the same or have different abilities. One is your typical rapid-fire, fast moving ship, and another is a big, slow flame-thrower. There are several other designs as well, and while it all sounds pretty neat, the game fails to keep up with the creativity featured in these designs. The developers claim this game to be a “bullet hell” style game, but I can assure you that it does not match up to the craziness of that genre. In fact, I found Xenoraid to be much too easy. The later segments are a bit harder, but I didn’t find there to be enough challenge to keep me engaged.
Most shooters don’t have a story worth their salt. For some reason, Xenoraid desperately grasps at straws to make it seem like it has some kind of importance. Thankfully, the dialogue is brief and skippable after each mission, but it does seem rather pointless. There’s some kind of war going on and you’re fighting some kind of aliens. What I do appreciate, on the other hand, is that each ship has a character inside. During your battles, you can see text in the corner reacting to what is going on in the world outside of them, and while it’s limited and novel, I thought it was a kind of cool addition to an otherwise bland game. The story is basically pointless, but it’s cool that there are at least some points of interest that could make for a better game in the future. Hopefully 10tons Ltd. learns something from the development of this game that could benefit any future releases.
Going back to the design, there are some obvious flaws; the enemy designs never seem to change, the mission backgrounds never seem to change, and the game is generally too repetitive. It’s too easy, and I don’t think it deserves the title of a “bullet hell” game. Aside from that and a strange attempt at an engaging narrative, there’s not too much to complain about. Sure, it may look and feel bland, but the base of the game is set up rather neatly, and the rest of the game suffers on account of its own unique problems, and not from the ground up. Ultimately the game isn’t all that impressive, but a part of me wants to see someone rework the mechanics and ideas into a newer and better game.
Perhaps the use of twin sticks rather than using the R button to shoot would make for a better gameplay experience. Of course, the enemy and levels designs are what really need touching up, but I feel that this small nitpick of mine might be something worth mentioning. The way that the meteors come at you make it difficult to attack any enemies that might be coming your way; half the time the enemies can’t hit you because of the meteors either killing them or blocking their shots. Considering that they fly in any direction they please, and you can only shoot up and a little bit to the side, it makes it tough to even reach the enemies if they spawn in a part of the map that you physically cannot get to.
You move around and shoot with the R button, or you can use your missiles with the L button. If you could shoot in all directions, then perhaps it would make the game seem more intense, though the lack of variety in the enemy design is still a problem that affects this. To be fair, some missile upgrades can make you reach less accessible areas, but that’s not always plausible, especially at the beginning of the game. Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel that the game needs to be completely reworked. I might sound like I’m repeating myself because I am, but Xenoraid truly suffers from being too repetitive. The basis of the game isn’t too flawed, but it’s definitely not a title I would put much time into.
Xenoraid isn’t bad, but it’s not good either. It didn’t feel like a complete waste of time, though. For the first hour or so, the game didn’t provide any kind of challenge, and I was left feeling a bit bored. The trouble is, even though the game gets better after a while, the game never really changes up its design, so it always seems like you’re doing the same boring things, even if it’s just a bit more challenging. Everything is much too repetitive and lacks substance. Once again, it’s just another indie title that you’ll forget you ever bought.
Most of my time is dedicated to tearing apart games and movies, then telling you what I think about it. I've been a gamer since birth, practically born with a controller in my hand. I've always spoke my mind, so critique was a natural fit. Twitter: @Jsrf38