Xenoraid is the latest Vita game by developer 10tons, who have delighted us in the past with games that are perfectly suited to the quick gameplay sessions we typically associate with handheld gaming.
Although quite a few of the titles that 10tons has released were fairly casual in nature, Xenoraid is a challenging shoot ’em up that echoes the classic vertically oriented arcade shooters of the past – albeit with a few twists of its own that propel the format forward to the modern era.
One of these changes is the fact that you’re not just taking one ship into battle, but rather a team of four – although you only control one of them at time. Switching between them can be done on the fly, which allows you to select a different craft when it’s more suitable to the current situation – because a boss fight might require more firepower while regular sections of a level may call for more agility.
Switching between your spaceships also brings another benefit – doing so grants you a brief moment of immortality, and it allows you to get out of a tight situation. These tight situations can arise from a limitation the game imposes on you, not just from enemy attack patterns. In Xenoraid, you’re always facing up and can’t turn your craft around or even sideways. There’s the freedom to swivel left and right, but that’s about it – and while you’re getting used to that there will be some moments of frustration, as enemies aren’t always as understanding of your inability to move in their direction.
Ships can be repaired and/or upgraded before the start of a mission, or you can buy back ships that you lost. Lost ships are expensive to buy back though, and spending you cash on replacing them means you have less to spend on upgrades and repairs for the rest of your fleet. With a nice range of primary and secondary weapons to choose from among the different ship types, there are plenty of ways to approach any level and finding a winning combination requires you to think before you act.
Xenoraid doesn’t necessarily offer anything groundbreaking, but it does put a fresh new spin on a classic videogame genre. Combined with its budget price point, that makes it a game worth checking out for everyone who’s enjoyed a classic shoot ’em up in the past. The audiovisual presentation isn’t spectacular, but the whole package comes together quite well and 10tons clearly know their way around this genre.