Xeodrifter (3DS eShop)
Renegade Kid, probably best known for Mutant Mudds, tried their hands on a Metroidvania game a couple of years ago. Skimming over reviews at the time, I could take away that Xeodrifter is good, but too short. For this reason I decided to wait until a sale and right now that is the case. The protagonist is stranded in a galaxy and needs to find a new warp core. Right from the start, you can choose from all four planets, although it quickly becomes evident that the game is quite linear.
My first impression wasn't good as it took a bit of time to get used to the controls and the health system is less than ideal. Instead of a more nuanced system, it's three hits and you are dead, or less than that against stronger foes. Enemies do not drop health either, so getting somewhere is quite difficult early on, especially because checkpoints exist only right before boss rooms. I warmed up to Xeodrifter once I found my first couple of gun upgrades. Things are fairer with a bit more health and a gun that actually does something.
The gun upgrades are the most interesting aspect of the game as you can freely distribute them among five categories and save up to three different settings that you can change on the fly. You can either make your shots travel faster, more powerful, more frequent, scattershot-like or move like Metroid's wave beam. Each of these categories can have six points attributed to them, but you will always have to choose because the twelve upgrades in the game aren't enough to fill out 30 slots. I found that shots travelling faster as well as that scattershot thingy are basically useless, so the distribution of upgrade points wasn't hard to decide.
Not too long after feeling better about my purchase, I came to realize that the bosses are all the same, just with different colors, more health and an additional trick each time you face one of them. The level design also became notorious for placing upgrades that you can't collect the first time at the very far end of the maps. The reason for that is that the game is still very short despite stretching its content like that. After only two hours I saw the credits roll, and these two hours included about 20 minutes of replaying sections because I died quite a few times. Conclusion: Xeodrifter is another one of those indie games that got good scores because reviewers are apparently already happy when what they are playing isn't a complete bust.
|Controls||10||Takes some time to get used to the shooting and platforming.
A touchscreen button is used despite a free shoulder button.
|Gameplay||Metroidvania that allows you to choose between all of its
locations from the get-go. In reality more limited.
|Story||The intro doesn't provide more than the why, which is fine.
Complete lack of personality makes the game forgettable.
|Single-player||Stringing functional basics of the genre together doesn't make
a good game. It merely avoids being bad.
|Graphics||8-bit art style with a solid technical execution.
Enemy designs are very ordinary.
|Sound||8-bit music that is hard to say something about.
Nothing particularly memorable, so neither good or bad.
|Value||Two hours to find and finish off the final boss.
Another 30 minutes to track down the remaining upgrades.
|Replay Value||No additional difficulty settings, not even a timer.
Likely sufficient for a very quick Metroidvania fix.
|Score||4||Decidedly mediocre, but with a hefty price tag. Xeodrifter is
only for people who have already played all of the alternatives.