When a game is afforded a sequel, then you know you are on to a good thing. Released in 2016 Project Starship took the indie market by storm. PC gamers loved its fast-paced gameplay and bullet hell approach. The average review score came out as 9 out of 10 on Steam, so when I was offered the chance to look at its sequel nearly 5 years after the first instalments release, I jumped at the chance.
Project Starship X has been developed and published by the same team. Developers Panda Indie Studios and publishers Eastasiasoft Limited have kept to their guns, and follow a similar style in their latest creation. A rogue-lite title that asks players to command a spaceship as they take on aliens by shooting and crashing into them repeatedly. The stages melt away as the hectic action unleashes itself on your screen. Power-ups and additional equipment can be found and purchased to aid you on your mission.
An addictive colourful 16-Bit arcade shooter that demands that you return to try again. Aliens fly around your ship without a care, their only aim is to unleash their bullets in your direction. Think fast and react faster as you wipe out anything in your way. Not only are the aliens against you, but so is the environment. Asteroids surround you, tentacles reach to grab your ship taking away your precious shields, and rock formations appear in your path.
When the universe is out to get you, and the main concept of death is final, you may think that this would be a frustrating mess. It really isn’t! Failure isn’t the end, you learn from your mistakes and come back stronger. Several characters can be chosen, and each has specific skills that will aid you depending on your gameplay style. I would like to say that planning is a must, but it really isn’t. Reactions, defence, and luck are the ingredients that see you succeed.
When Hitler appears as one of the bosses, you know you are playing a surreal game. Unfortunately, though, Panda Indie Studios didn’t push forward with all the narcissistic fascists that have plagued history, so Hitler takes prime spot. The gargantuan and monstrous bosses barely test you, unfortunately. Their attacks are easy to read, simple to overcome, and fail to present a challenge. It should disappoint, yet it doesn’t. The lack of difficulty allowed me to enjoy the action, simply sitting back and being victorious with minimal skill for the genre was a joyous occasion.
“Mad Events” ensure that the gameplay isn’t repetitive. Aliens spawn at random, the environment alters, and all hell breaks loose as it lives up to its hectic style. These unspecified events can happen at the drop of a hat, so stay alert as death is the last thing you want as you aim for the high score.
When a developer creates a retro shooter, you want every detail to be correct. Fortunately, this lives up to the billing. A lovely top-down perspective allows you to observe all the aliens falling towards you and spawning to the sides. Your clear view of the action allows you time to plan ahead and see the mayhem ensue. The colour choice represents classic arcade games, as do the pixelated graphics. I was particularly fond of the art style for the weapons and the bullets. Streams of ammo fly continuously, mowing down wave after wave of alien scum.
Shrill and upbeat music accompany every part of the gameplay. This adrenaline pumping approach keeps you on point, demanding that you don’t drop your guard at any point. The piercing sound of the lasers and the crunching noise of fallen foes was glorious to listen to. This is exactly what old-school should sound and look like.
With so much going on, I needed more fingers!
My only regret when playing this is that I only have 8 fingers and 2 thumbs. I needed more! Dexterity and agile digits are a must if you want to compete at the highest level. If you have slower reactions like me, then don’t be disappointed if you fail. We all have to concede that age will define us at some point. Practice makes perfect, and the controls aren’t overly complicated, it’s simply a case of being able to work fast enough.
Death is all but guaranteed, no matter your skill level, and as a rogue-lite game this means starting all over again. This was a cause of some frustration, but it added a layer of replay value. The level setup remains the same throughout, but the “Mad Events” and character selection made for enough variety that I wanted to keep playing no matter the annoyance of losing my progress. The achievements are simple to unlock and obtaining them all takes between 1 and 2 hours. A NG+ mode would have been a nice addition, but without it there still is enough to keep you coming back for more.
A sequel that is worth your time and money!
Not all sequels succeed, but Project Starship X certainly does. It’s zany and upbeat audio is reminiscent of old-school shooters, and keeps the adrenaline flowing. A delightful art style will catch your eye and fill you with nostalgia. It has easy controls to pick up, even if I didn’t have the agility or reactions to get the best out of them. Overall, it is a title that is worthy of your time and money, and one that I recommend. If you fancy a copy for your library, press the link and purchase it here! Can you dodge the projectiles in this Bullet Hell themed shooter? Grab your spaceship and shoot, weave and crash your way to victory.