Developer: Eclipse Games
Publisher: Eclipse Games
Release Date: 25 January 2018
Price: $9.99 / £8.99
Reviewed by Josh Brant
Every once in a while a video game comes along where you may already judge it before even playing it. Obvious clones and ports can come across as lazy or unoriginal, but it’s always nice to be proven wrong. And with that I’m happy to say that Tachyon Project, a new twin-stick shooter from developer Eclipse Games for the Nintendo Switch, has surprised me in a positive way.
Appearances can be deceiving
At first I couldn’t help but feel like Tachyon Project would just be another run-of-the-mill twin-stick shooter, similar to Geometry Wars or a variety of other Housemarque arcade shooters. It seemed like it would be another copy-and-paste title with minor cosmetic differences at best. Thankfully, Tachyon Project has proven that you should never judge a book by its cover.
In the story mode you play as Ada, a software programmer who mistakenly gets thrust into a much deeper conundrum than originally intended. The story is told through static cut-scenes inserted between each mission, which provide some motive for the characters - although it added nothing substantial to the title. I thought the plot felt superfluous, or underdeveloped, and there was really no point other than to add some length to the total playtime.
Like many other twin-stick shooters, in Tachyon Project you control your ship with the left analog stick and fire in any direction with the right analog stick. As a tried and tested formula this lends itself well to casual gamers and makes it immediately less of a hurdle for entry. The main campaign has you try and infiltrate ten different servers to obtain important information and this is done by destroying enemy programs (ships) all the while trying to move onto the next mission.
Strength in depth
I was impressed with the variety of enemy types and the way Tachyon Project introduced each enemy unit incrementally, so as to make sure they don’t overstay their welcome. The enemies themselves range from the slow moving Crawler to higher risk foes like Seekers.
Eclipse Games ended up providing enough depth to each type to make fighting them an engaging experience. Trying to take on a multitude of different enemy types at once can certainly lead to many frantic moments.
As a testament to the design of Tachyon Project, I found myself playing virtually the same experience for a few hours without getting bored or tired of enemy repetition.
Don’t get me wrong, repetition will eventually settle in as you battle these enemies on the same rectangular battlefield for each mission, but at least the sheer number of enemy types and their placements make for unique strategic elements.
Maybe it’s just on the Switch, but occasionally there was some slowdown in both handheld and TV modes and while this didn’t really hamper my enjoyment of the title it’s worth noting due to the twitch-like nature of shooter titles.
Tried and tested
In terms of gameplay, Tachyon Project doesn’t really stick out from other twin-stick shooters, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Your ship has a primary weapon, two special weapons, and two extra power abilities you can choose from. These weapons and perks provide some replayability to the title and diversifies the experience, but I still mainly only needed to use two basic loadouts between missions. Nonetheless, mixing and matching your weapons and perks is fun to experiment with. Freezing enemies or slowing down time while planting a proximity bomb to get out of an enemy swarm made me feel like an ace pilot.
New weapons and perks are acquired by completing missions or obtaining a certain score on specific levels. These new additions (some more fun than others) are the real driving force in continuing with the Tachyon Project. The aesthetic glows and looks great, but there is not much differentiation between levels and it shows later on. The gameplay is key here and for how pretty everything looks, it’s the gameplay that will determine its worth. In this regard, Tachyon Project does not disappoint even if it is somewhat unimaginative.
As previously stated, there are only ten levels in the main story and this will only take a couple hours to complete. Each mission has six different subsections within it. This is rather convenient, as if you die in one subsection, you only have to start from that beginning of that section, not from the very beginning of the mission.
Each subsection has its own objectives which range from killing a specific amount of enemies or surviving for a limited amount of time, to killing a certain number of a given enemy type. Every couple of levels you will face-off against a boss and this usually means you need to change up your tactics, keeping the gameplay fresh.
Tachyon Project doesn’t rely on boss battles alone for that though, with certain missions allowing you to become undetectable by enemy ships or decreasing the level area incrementally to provide more of a challenge. I really liked the thought that went into some of these missions and aside from the main campaign, there are challenge missions which include score attack modes to try and beat your friends to the top of the leaderboards.
You can play solo, but up to three friends can play these challenge modes as well to try and achieve the highest score possible. This is a lot more fun with other players and provides some much needed replay value.
Overall, Tachyon Project is a fun, fast-paced, and hectic title that any shooter enthusiast should get some enjoyment from. While the single-player content is short, and the plot feels unnecessary, there is a fair difficulty curve and the gameplay is just as solid as some of the best twin-stick shooters on the market. It doesn’t reinvent the genre, and some technical issues don’t do the title any favors, but there is enough here to make Tachyon Project a worthy investment.
Pros & Cons
+ Fun, fast-paced gameplay
+ Solid Controls
+ Clever weapon and perk customization system
- Repetition can settle in
- Story is lacking
- Generic presentation