Developer: aPriori Digital
Publisher: aPriori Digital
Release Date: 8 February 2018
Price: $13.49 / £10.99
Reviewed by Gary Gray
Aperion Cyberstorm is a twin stick, bullet hell shoot 'em up by fresh UK developer aPriori Digital. Protagonist Kate is searching for her missing team mates after a malfunctioning computer separated them while trying to warp. Two years have now passed, and Kate must fight in tight, twisting corridors and wide open chambers to try to find out where her team mates are, occasionally picking up the odd communication from them along the way.
At first glance the level designs are a little dull. With mainly black backgrounds and minimalist colour pallets, they never feel like they vary all that much. With all the different ships and enemies depicted in a basic, neon outline, there really doesn't seem like there's much to look at.
However, as the action ramps up, it becomes clear that this might not just have been a meaningless style choice. With a tonne of enemies on screen at once, and more bullets than you can keep up with, the basic style really helps you see where everything is.
Chaos and Excitement
The first couple of levels act as a tutorial, gently easing you into the controls and the story. Once these first couple of sections are over though, the onslaught of enemies hots up and this is where the fun really begins. Aperion Cyberstorm is one of those games where the more chaotic it is, the better it gets. As bullets fly and threats appear, the increasing chaos and excitement just draw you in more and more.
Each area has the same basic layout: you head towards a section, take on enemies, and then move on. Checkpoints are scattered throughout the levels, and these act as a hub for you to upgrade your weapons or change you ship and loud outs. While handy in many ways - if you leave the game you can start back up from one of these points - they are scattered a little too thinly. It can take up to 20 minutes to reach some of them, making for some slightly frustrating repetition if you perish before you arrive.
Not that it's all mindless shooting. Approaching things tactically is crucial to victory, as different enemy crafts act in different ways. Small, missile-shaped foes charge straight at you, but are vulnerable if you can boost out of the way in time, while other bigger ships might shoot at you, then fly around for another pass. There's a decent variety of bad guys, and some sections also feature stationary gun turrets for an extra threat.
Controls are tight, and they need to be with action this intense. You fly with the left stick, and shoot by titling the right stick in any direction. A variety of upgradable weaponry and a host of different ships mean that you can tweak your fighters to suit your style, or tailor them for the chaotic fights ahead.
There's also a variety of elemental pickups scattered throughout the levels. These are usually automatic, short proximity bursts, such as fire that burns enemies in the surrounding area, or ice that lets you freeze enemy ships with a single shot.
The more the merrier
Every mode is playable with up to five players, even the campaign, and this is where Aprion Cyberstorm really shines. Getting together with friends to fight your way through the main campaign just adds to the madness and is heaps of fun. When that's done, you can take each other on in a versus mode, or fight 'till the death in onslaught mode. Surprisingly packed with content, versus mode has plenty of different settings, including free-for-all brawls and king of the hill. There really is a lot of multiplayer madness to be had. Onslaught is also just as big, with new levels to unlock as you progress and stars to be earned by surviving for as long as possible.
Aperion Cyberstorm is a prime example of how multiplayer can be featured throughout an entire game and is easily its greatest asset, with single JoyCon play also an added bonus. With plenty of content to sink your teeth into, there's hours of fun to be had. While not the most visually stunning game out there, it more than makes up for it with tight and well made gameplay.
Pros & Cons
+ Brilliant multiplayer
+ Solid gameplay
+ Tonnes of content
- Plain backgrounds
- Checkpoints are frustratingly uncommon