By Dan Spence on September 2nd 2015
Today I played Xeodrifter, a Metroid-style 2D action adventure game developed by Texas-based studio: Renegade Kid. Xeodrifter is a game riddled with large quantities of retro nostalgia but manages to feel fresh regardless due to some interesting design choices.
Xeodrifter opens with a meteoroid colliding with our (unnamed) protagonist’s space ship. This unfortunate impact leaves our hero’s ship stranded due to its now broken warp core. Using our remaining fuel we must investigate 4 nearby planets to gather the components to construct a new warp core.
Graphically, Xeodrifter stays true to its Metroid-inspired roots with a style similar to 8-bit graphics. There are some nice extra touches and effects that would be impossible to create in a true 8-bit game (depth of field effects, etc.) but Xeodrifter looks the part nonetheless. Xeodrifter‘s graphics are undoubtedly an improvement over old NES classics but overall the game still manages to capture the nostalgic feeling well.
Xeodrifter consists of the standard “Metroid-vania” trifecta: exploration, shooting and some basic platforming. Of course this means that we’ll be gaining some interesting new abilities during our adventure, as well. The most notable of our abilities allow us to shift into the fore/background, phase through walls, rocket jump and transform into a submarine. In true Metroid fashion, these abilities all allow us to traverse the game world more easily with each planet containing numerous areas that can only be accessed by using abilities acquired from other planets.
One of the more interesting features in Xeodrifter is the gun upgrade system. Hidden across the game’s 4 planets are a number of upgrades for your gun. Each upgrade gives you 1 gun point (up to a total of 12) that can then be assigned to the attribute of your choice: firepower, shot speed, rate of fire, spread and a zigzagging effect can all be combined to varying effects. Xeodrifter allows all of these attributes to be altered from the pause screen at any time. This means that the player can reconfigure their gun at will, adapting to any situation. I found the zigzag and spread effects to be particularly useful for shooting around corners while allowing the player to stay relatively safe, but I opted for increased power and rate of fire when the time came to deal with the game’s bosses.
All of the boss encounters in Xeodrifter feature the same type of creature (pictured above). While this may seem initially quite limited, Xeodrifter does its best to make each encounter feel fresh by adding new enemy attacks and strategies to each encounter. During the first boss battle, your opponent has only 4 actions: dash, pounce, shoot and heal but by the time the final battle rolls around the creatures’ capabilities have increased to include a variety of other skills: shielding, ground-pounding, flying, plane-switching, spawning other enemies and flooding the stage to name just a few. As a player, this means that you already partially know how to approach each boss encounter; the game becomes about learning your enemy’s new attacks, and how best to avoid them. Xeodrifter literally gives you an opponent that improves as you do. It’s a refreshing change compared to fighting the usual slew of gimmick-based bosses that can only be bested by using your most recently acquired power-up.
The game’s soundtrack is standard chiptune fare. It suits Xeodrifter perfectly and there’s even a few decent tracks, but it’s clear that the soundtrack’s main job is to stoke the flames of nostalgia. A task that it performs more than competently.
I completed the game in just under 4 hours. I found this to be an ideal length. Xeodrifter is short enough that I was able to finish it in a single sitting, but it was also substantial enough that I was able to get my fix of sweet “Metroid-vania” goodness. For completionists the game will be a little longer, as there’s plenty of extra hidden health and gun upgrades to seek out, should you be so inclined.
The game’s retro sensibilities and 8-bit charm make it an easy sell especially if you’re a fan of the older Metroid games. It’s essentially Metroid-lite, it’s not as long or as deep as a true Metroid game but it ticks a lot of the same boxes; it scratches the same itch. Xeodrifter has the same soul as Metroid but it’s built on a smaller scale. It effectively utilizes some interesting, new ideas while still staying relatively true to its old-school style. If you’re interested in playing a more modern take on a classic formula, then Xeodrifter is definitely worth the price of admission.
Xeodrifter is: RECOMMENDED
Xeodrifter is available for 3DS, Wii U, PS4, PS VITA and PC.
PC version played for purposes of review
Posted on September 2, 2015, in 3DS Games, Indie Games, PC Games, PS VITA, PS4 Games, Reviews, Wii U Games and tagged 3DS, 3DS Games, Gambitious Digital Entertainment, Game Reviews, games, gaming, indie games, Metroidvania, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS Games, PC Games, PC Vita, PS4 games, Renegade Kid, Reviews, video game reviews, video games, Wii U Games, Xeodrifter. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.