Xenoraid Review

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Game Title: Xenoraid
Developer: 10 Tons Games
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download: 40 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

We all know the story of Space Invaders, where Earth sends ships out to defend planets from invading alien ships, but do we ever really see a realistic look of said ships that are defending the world?  Of course, you can’t tell a thing from the original game, but more recent iterations should at least be getting more crafty with how the ships look in relation to our actual technology for space-capable vehicles.

I’d compare it to the movie Armageddon, where the space ships used to take out an asteroid actually look similar to our own space-ready shuttles.  But, have I ever seen a space video game do the same?  That answer would be no, until I played the game I am about to tell you about.

From 10 Tons Games, here is my review of the PS Vita / PSTV game, Xenoraid!

Story

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The story of Xenoraid is quite simple.  Alien ships start heading towards Earth and the people of Earth try to make contact.  First Contact doesn’t go well, and the Solar System now has the imminent threat of an incoming fleet of ships, hell-bent on destroying everything we hold dear.

It’s not incredible, but it works.  Plus, the story actually continues past the intro with tidbits of info being given as the game progresses, which does a lot more than other games of the type do.

Gameplay

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Xenoraid is a vertical top-down shooting game.  Imagine Space Invaders and you’ve got the right idea.  Granted, there are some unique twists to the gameplay here, but it has the same basic idea that Space Invaders began all those years ago.

Progression in the game is in the form of doing each “chapter” which is based on a particular planet.  Each chapter/planet has several stages for you to go through, where you fight off enemy ships around a particular part of the solar system.  Once you clear all missions there, you move onto the next and continue the process until you’ve completed everything there is.  Do note that you cannot go back and replay stages once you’ve cleared them.  Once you clear Stage 1, you can only go onto Stage 2.

On top of just doing stages, you have the unique features that come with customization.  When you play the game, you have 4 ships at your disposal.  You can change out these ships at any given time and each ship contains different types of weapons.  The idea is to switch out when either you have one’s weapons enter a cooldown or is about to be destroyed.  Since ships lost in battle are permanently gone and must be replaced with new ships (that cost in-game money), this raises the strategy up pretty high compared to other space shooters.

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Then you have upgrades.  You gain in-game money from completing stages and that money can be used to buy ships (as I explained above) or upgrades either to a single ship or across all ships.  These upgrades could be more health or more complex like new weapon types.  There’s a lot of customization to be done and it is needed with increasingly-difficult enemies being introduced in each and every stage the game throws at you.  This is also tied with the fact that stages can’t be replayed, so you can’t grind for money and upgrades.

The difficulty mostly comes in the fact that complex enemies come into play early on.  As early as the third stage of the game, you will be shown several enemy types. Including enemies with several parts that must be destroyed individually.  Since you must defeat all enemies to complete the mission, it is vital that you learn how to fight each individual type.  After all, they will keep respawning on the map if you don’t defeat them the first time they show up.

Before we close up this section, let me talk about a very frustrating feature of the game.  Xenoraid is one of the many games that constantly tries to be online when Wi-Fi is turned on.  It comes in randomly, but 9 times out of 10 it does so while you’re in a stage.  It comes in without warning and does not pause the stage, so you’re essentially blind for a good 5 seconds and have no idea what’s going on with you, the environment, and enemies.  It’s a big nuisance.

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The game also shows difficulty in environments and enemies.  While some stages have you just firing on enemies and dodging enemy fire, others have you doing that as well as maneuvering around obstacles like asteroid fields.

As far as time goes, each stage takes around 3-5 minutes to complete.  With several stages for each of the planets involved, the game will take you at least a few hours to complete while I believe an understandable time-frame would be around 5-6 hours.  A good amount of time for a game of this type, plus time for upgrades and buying new ships.

Controls

First of all, the game is compatible with the PlayStation TV, so you can enjoy Xenoraid on the go or on the TV, even without exploiting the fact that the Vita version is cross-buy with the PS4 version.  There are no special controls on the PSTV, but it is compatible all the same.

Controlling the game is simple enough.  The Left Analog Stick moves your ship around and the shoulder buttons are used for your weapons/sub-weapons.  Finally, the face buttons are used for your 4 ships  You tap the face button associated with each ship to swap out your current one for the desired ship.  This is all covered in the tutorial stage.

Presentation

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Visually, the game is quite artistic and beautiful.  The renders are crisp, and the background environments really look well-done.  They’re in 2D, but when the game is moving, some of the background planets you would swear up and down are completely 3D in nature.  It’s one of the best-looking games of this genre I’ve ever seen.

Music is pretty decent for the genre.  Kind of a techno feel to it.  It’s nothing amazing, but it gets the job done.

Performance I have no complaints about.  Load times are short.  Gameplay runs nice and smooth.  It’s nice to have a lot more games to review lately without performance issues than with.

Summary

Xenoraid is surprisingly-strategic take on the Space Invaders formula.  Although the pestering “Connecting to PSN” message not pausing gameplay is nothing but bothersome, the rest of the game is pretty darn good.  Any fan of this type of game should consider checking it out. 

9/10

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