For many decades, ever since Orson Wells’ infamous radio broadcasting of “War of The Worlds,” man has often wondered the terrifying ideas of humans potentially making contact with beings not of our Earth. Most of the time, those visions are met with tremendous destruction and an intergalactic war. Whether it be massive, intelligent bugs such as in Starship Troopers to the flying Locust saucers in Independence Day, we have often predicted that any encounter with aliens would be met with hostile force.
There are few instances where a first encounter would be met with peace, such as in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and even the most recent hit, Arrival. However, 10Tons Studios has intelligence that confirms that should we encounter aliens, we will undoubtedly be locked into our first Solar War. From the studio that brought us games like Crimson land, and Neon Chrome comes Xenoraid, a shmup that puts us on the front lines of a challenging war with alien raiders.
Xenoraid takes place in the future, where man has started to expand outwards into the solar system. Unfortunately, the outermost humans contact with an alien fleet, and the pleasantries are not welcoming. An unknown alien force has infiltrated the solar system. Despite attempting a peaceful communication, the alien forces have hostile intentions. After destroying a lunar base around Neptune, all remaining Earth forces regard this alien force as an extinction-level threat, as the aliens possess radical technologies, including defenses that can render nuclear missiles useless. It is up to you and your squadron of interstellar pilots to take the menace down
Xenoraid plays as a scrolling shoot-‘em up game, having the player take down waves upon waves of enemies across several sections of the solar system. Unlike other shmups, the levels are strung together in a single player campaign, you players don’t have to beat the entire game in one sitting. As a shmup, players will be expected to use primary and secondary weapons to destroy aliens, while avoiding heavy enemy fire. This may sound all too familiar, but Xenoraid has a few tricks in its hull.
Players are part of a squadron of ships at any time; the player can switch amongst the other ships in the squadron. What those ships are and what they can dish out is entirely up to you. This is effective for avoiding enemy fire and preserving your ships. Additionally, Xenoraid has interesting shooting mechanics. In the spirit of James Cameron’s Aliens, players are encouraged to fire, in short, controlled bursts, especially with the Vulcan. Using the weapon for too long will allow overheating to occur, and leave the player vulnerable to enemy fire.
When missions are completed, players can repair and upgrade their ships. A good rule of thumb is to preserve your ships as much as possible. Not only do your pilots rank up and became more combat-capable but losing your ships is costly. Any ships lost to enemy action can be purchased again, but for a hefty price. The game features a perk system to compensate for the game’s difficulty curve. These perks may come in handy but do not guarantee victory.
The gameplay in Xenoraid is furiously challenging but incredibly addicting. Players will be dishing out a variety of fearsome space weapons in order to defend the Earth. Phalanx fire, grenades, rockets, cluster bombs, and much more encompass the arsenal in Xenoraid. Using the wingman switch feature has saved me from many a certain loss and brings a certain strategy to Xenoraid. The game, though, has quite the difficulty.
While enemies come at you in waves, their weapons and formations are always changing. The game is procedurally generated, so layouts of the level change with each play through. Initially, the aliens hold back, but over time, they hit you with everything they got. The enemy in later levels adds multiple units, such as carriers that disperse small fighters and bomber escorts with heavier weapons.
Additionally, there will be asteroid belts to fight through which will cause damage. Should you perish, each chapter has several levels divided into sections. Should you lose a level, you will checkpoint back to the beginning of the section. However, it is possible to be in an unwinnable position, forcing players to begin the entire chapter all over again. The checkpoint system does work, though, and gives players an opportunity to mix up their strategies.
Xenoraid also has a solid 2D presentation. The visuals are crisp and well-illustrated, with a soundtrack from composer Jonathan Geer. Mister Geer worked on the soundtracks for many of 10Tons projects, such as adventure puzzler Azkend 2, and even finished composing the rising smash hit, Owlboy. For Xenoraid, the soundtrack evokes that sense of strangeness and galactic terror, as lone humans fight for their planets millions of miles away from home.
Xenoraid is a blast, and sure to give a substantial challenge for those who seek it. From its fantastic shooting mechanics to its solid presentation, Xenoraid is another example of an action game done well. Between Crimsonland, Neon Chrome, and Xenoraid, 10tons Studios continues to give us a delicious buffet of action extravaganza.