Release Date: 17 November 2017
Price: $9.99 / £8.99
Reviewed By Gary Gray
Shoot ‘em ups are not in short supply at the minute on the Nintendo eShop, but Xenoraid is a little different thanks to some clever gameplay mechanics.
It's a classically styled, top down space shooter with some very modern twists. At first glance it may not look like anything new, but when you dive in, the differences are immediately on show.
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The last thing that runs through your mind when you hear the words "arcade shoot 'em up" is resource management, but that's the real beauty of Xenoraid. Not only are you given four different spacecraft that you can switch between on the fly, but you also have to keep an eye on your health, ammo and overheating weaponry.
So say you lose one of your ships during a level, it's no big deal, it’ll be back on the next stage right? Wrong. Unless you buy another ship, you'll be left without. Don't forget to repair the other ship either otherwise they’ll suffer the same fate.
This is an ongoing theme throughout the campaign and money you earn from each mission carries over to the next level, so be careful what you spend it on. Unlike most economy based games there’s more to buy than you'll have money for, from upgrades that affect all ships, to individual weapons upgrades, shield upgrades and of course entirely new craft for you to pilot.
Playing each level will be different every time, as enemy placement is randomised. As a result, the familiar 'learn the patterns' strategy that you can normally rely on when you fail a mission is gone.
The only familiarity is the mission's objectives, though they’re pretty much 'exterminate the enemy' every time. You actually see what's headed your way too, as enemy ships appear on a counter on screen. Some of the bigger threats take some time to kill, and you have to plan out your attacks as they don't just disappear when they go offscreen, coming back around until you manage to totally wipe them out. Patience, without any rash decisions, is crucial.
Where the visuals are clean and crisp, making it easy to keep track of everything that’s going on, the backgrounds can be a little lacklustre. This is really the only part of Xenoraid that is a little underwhelming. Almost static backgrounds can give you a nice feeling of being a million miles away from planet life, stuck in the emptiness of space. But they also don’t ever make you feel like you're seeing anything new or going anywhere fast.
Audio on the other hand is a real highlight, and hearing the firing of the automatic weapons really gives you a poweful feeling. The thumping gunshots and twanging lasers were perfectly balanced with the electro background music.
Co-op is also great fun, with the four ships that you choose from being shared between you. This makes for some great screaming and shouting that all the best multiplayer games have, as you have to keep track of who's got what ship, and decide together where the money at the end of each mission goes.
Xenoraid is a must own for anyone looking for a classic style space shooter with a modern twist. Well constructed resource management gives Xenoraid a fresh edge that cuts through the stale traditions of other top down shooters, adding a surprising level of complexity and depth.
Pros & Cons
+ Cool craft-swapping mechanic
+ Fulfilling resource management
+ Solid gameplay
- Bland backgrounds
- Little enemy variety