Patterns are nice aren’t they? They’re predictable, they’re comfortable, they’re learnable, and when you break that code, it’s the best feeling in the world. One genre of games that has always taken advantage of this fact is the shoot ’em up! I mean, the whole concept of a shoot ’em up is based around this puzzle pattern-tastic concept isn’t it? Well, it’s also about shooting things, racking up that high score, and watching things blow up, but you get what I’m saying.
What I mean is, everything from how the enemies enter or exit the screen, how they move and react while on screen, and even the direction, rotation, and spread of the enemy bullets follow this simple decree. It’s why they’re so satisfying to play, because once you recognize those patterns, it just becomes a test of your ability to react to them. Especially as they layer on top of each other.
Well, Panda Indie Studio (in partnership with Eastasiasoft) hopes to add a little chaos to this formula by adding a dash of randomness and a hint of the unexpected, in their rogue-lite shoot ‘em up, Project Starship X! The only question that remains is, will it come together in a way that satisfies shoot ‘em up fans, or will its manic approach be too much of a sensory overload?
Up until recently, I hadn’t heard much about Project Starship X, aside from a few promotions here or there. After seeing the game in action, it also seemed like your typical retro-style shoot ‘em up, but with a healthy dose of wackiness, both in its visuals and its concept.
Learning that the game had rogue-lite elements however, really piqued my interest! I mean, I absolutely love shoot ‘em ups, so I was probably going to try it out at some point anyway, but the idea of mixing up the formula with random stages, item pick ups, and bosses, could really give the genre the fresh coat of paint it needed. So I jumped on the opportunity once I got the chance!
Thankfully, instead of creating a frustrating symphony of chaos, the rogue-lite/shoot em up mashup really played well together! In fact, it is a wonderful and refreshing take on a time honored genre! You would think not knowing what was coming next, especially in a shoot ‘em up would be overwhelming and difficult to react to, but Panda Indie Studio approached it with a deft hand. Across the 14 different levels you can play, the elements and enemies you encounter will be random, so you never quite know what to expect when you first enter a stage. With that being said, although there is no pattern to what may come at you next, the things that do appear will still act predictably, meaning you can adapt to them accordingly!
Additionally, like your typical rogue-lite, Project Starship X also features random item pickups, weapon/shield upgrades, bosses, secret stages, and a few other things that can help and/or hinder you during a run. You’ll also unlock more of them as you get further in the game, complete challenges, and encounter events (like defeating a boss).
Nonetheless, if I could change anything about the game, it would be to add more of the things that I loved about it! Things like, giving me more wacky characters to choose from and/or unlock. It’s always fun to see what different attack patterns, and strengths/weaknesses each brings to the table. Or maybe more items or stages to encounter as you continue to make successful runs!
I know it’s a bit of a cop out, but honestly, I couldn’t think of anything bad to say about the game and if Panda Indie Studio was to make a sequel, I would love to see it all come back. Including its zany eye searing visuals and of course, it’s amazing chiptunes!
If you’re a fan of shoot ‘em ups then recommending Project Starship X is absolutely a no brainer. Like I mentioned earlier it does everything you would want a shoot ‘em up to do, but with the added twist of rogue-lite elements. Which honestly just adds that much more replayability to a genre that already promotes playing it over and over again! If you’re not a fan of shoot ‘em ups however, I don’t think it’ll convince you otherwise, but I think it would be a great one to try regardless. It’s hectic, visually assertive, has music that absolutely slaps, and a gameplay loop that’s addictive and fun! Just prepare yourself for not being able to put down your controller!