If the idea of a hardcore shmup where characters' clothes can't seem to stay on their bodies appeals to you then here's a game for you. Although it sounds cheeky, Caladrius Blaze's tight gameplay is sure to please any old-school shoot 'em up fan.
MOSS is having one heck of a year. First, they released Raiden V for Xbox One and now the latest version of Caladrius is here complete with loads of extra content in the form of Caladrius Blaze. For the unfamiliar, it's a classic vertically scrolling shoot 'em up but with a couple of interesting twists. First of all, the core gameplay is as phenomenally satisfying as you'd expect from a MOSS game. On top of that, there are nifty new score and weapon systems that make it feel fresh. As you play, you can shoot your regular stream of projectiles and deploy bombs but you also have three secondary weapons. These are deployed with the other face buttons and require stored energy. Using these weapons is the only way to increase your score multiplier so any gamer with a sense of purpose will use them as often as they can. Depending on the selected mode, you can also use all three weapons together to perform an Element Burst, Evolution, or Fusion special attack when their meters are filled enough. Juggling between all of these attacks to cause as much devastation and earn as many points as possible is a ton of fun.
Caladrius Blaze allows you to choose from eight distinct characters, each with their own unique arsenal of weaponry and attacks. Experimenting to find the ideal setup for your play style is very satisfying, especially after you unlock the ability to customize your secondary weapons. In addition to these characters, there are also a handful of epic boss battles that'll put your skills to the test. As you fight through stages and beat on bosses, characters' clothing incrementally tears when they take severe damage which is referred to as a "Shame Break". I found this quite amusing and it added a layer of satisfaction to taking down bosses. That being said, some characters eventually show a little too much skin which can frankly be uncomfortable, especially when someone else is in the room.
One thing that disappoints me about Caladrius Blaze is how few stages there are. I know, most shoot 'em ups are incredibly short but there are only six stages and three extra ones here. The sixth stage is unlockable by beating the first five without continuing while the three extras include a bonus stage in Evolution Mode and two challenge missions that test how efficiently you can take out enemies. You can potentially experience all of these stages within an hour and from then on, you'll just be playing the same scenarios over and over again. On the plus side, there are boss rush and score attack modes to further test your skills and a helpful tutorial if you find things too tricky. You can also play cooperatively with a local friend, too. On top of this, you can unlock loads of artwork and story sequences in the gallery which adds a great deal of replay value. It'll likely take many hours to acquire it all.
Power-ups in Caladrius Blaze are also rather disappointing. At the end of each stage, you can assign earned crystals to strengthen your weapons which is cool but there isn't much to collect while playing. There are fragments that reward you with an extra life once you collect enough, but that's about it. I miss powering up my weapons as I play then having them reset to basic firepower whenever I perish. That makes surviving much more satisfying as your weapons gradually turn you into an unstoppable force.
Caladrius Blaze is a fantastic shoot 'em up that offers enough solid gameplay to satisfy genre veterans. It may get repetitive fast, but the amount of fun to be had makes it a worthwhile purchase for anyone in the market for a fresh shooting experience.
- + Awesome shoot 'em up gameplay complete with nifty score and weapon systems
- + Variety of characters and epic bosses
- + Plenty of replay incentives
- - Very few stages to master means that it gets repetitive quite quickly
- - Lack of power-ups makes gameplay less satisfying than it could be