Death Ray Manta is described as an arcade style shooter and one needs to only watch the trailer to see it is nothing less than that. It is easy to pick up, fast paced and it challenges the player’s reflexes as well as familiarity with the environments. Because of it’s short levels, quick transitions and no apparent loading screens it is also very replay able.
To complete a level the player is required to use their projectiles to destroy all the enemies while manoeuvring around the obstacles and trying to not get hit themselves. The player moves around fairly quickly allowing to outrun most threats. The player’s weapon shoots rapidly spreads out slowly usually making precise aiming unnecessary. Most of the enemies die in one hit and the obstacles can also be destroyed. The player can also shoot down enemy projectiles using their own, giving the weapon a defensive function and letting the player survive even when they would rather not move. The game doesn’t have any timer to measure a player’s score instead counting how many levels were completed during a run with there being 32 in total. The player can also try to get a double score for a level by quickly picking up a diamond before it disappears.
Visually the game uses mostly simple, easy to read, neon coloured shapes. All enemies and obstacles are visually distinct from each other making it easy to see the different threats and quickly prioritise which ones to deal with first. Some events like enemy deaths and the player moving around are appropriately accompanied by particle effects. Along with explosion particles the destruction of an enemy triggers random words to briefly flash on the spot. However at times those effects may cause the screen to be a bit too busy to keep track of everything. I found most of my deaths happened when I got distracted impulsively trying to read the flashing words or as many moving objects blended together and prevented me from seeing actual threats. At the end of each stage a quick screen wide warp transition does well to signal the player’s victory and separate each level without breaking the flow.
The audio meshes very well with the visuals and helps to evoke the 80s nostalgia aesthetic. All the distinct sound effects complete with retro robot voices serve well to signal their respective triggers. They make the environments feel more responsive and shooting everything down feels more satisfying as a result. From the start of the first level the gameplay is accompanied by a fast paced synth soundtrack which goes very well with the gameplay’s rhythm trying to help the player stay in the flow and continue playing.
In terms of technical aspects I wasn’t able to find any problems. Everything seems to be working as it is supposed to. The game responds perfectly to all the controls which only involve the use of the twin thumb sticks on a Nintendo Switch controller. The options menu also allows the player to swap the move/shoot functions between the sticks.
Whenever I started up the game I found myself playing for much more time than Initially expected. Some visuals are distracting for me and get me occasionally frustrated when it felt like my death wasn’t my fault. However the game still keeps pulling me in and whenever I fail it always makes me feel like I can do better and I end up improving my game in small but noticeable ways. The game is also great to watch and listen to, which made it entertaining even when I wasn’t the one playing and I am sure I would enjoy playing it with someone even though it is a single player game.