At first glance, Futuridium EP Deluxe may seem like Star Fox, but its unique style and mechanics set it apart from what you'd expect. It may not be the best 3D space shooter you'll play, but it is fun and will be welcomed by any gamer who enjoys a challenge.
The only story that's presented consists of a brief intro. It basically involves you having to pilot your ship to shoot blue cubes in order to take down large spacecrafts and such. The game is played by controlling a small ship that is constantly in motion. Players can move in all directions with the exception of being able to rotate. Instead, players are constantly moving in one general direction and have the ability to turn the ship 180 degrees by the push of a button. If your ship gets hit by a projectile or touches any surface then it explodes and a chunk of your persistently depleting energy will be used. A very small amount of energy is replenished for each cube that you destroy. Once all of your energy is depleted, you must use a credit to continue or else it's game over. Players can shoot and boost which are both performed by holding down their corresponding buttons. The controls are simple and effective. Within seconds, almost anyone can pick up the game and know how to play with no explanation. This being said, there is a brief tutorial which acts as a nice intro.
Futuridium EP Deluxe looks great with its minimalistic and colourful style. Objects and particles have an increasingly prominent prism effect the further away they are from the center of the screen which is a really cool visual. The ship itself is small and matches the game's simplistic style yet it stands out well enough to not blend in to the scenery. Wherever the ship goes, it leaves a permanent translucent blue trail. This effect looks great and is helpful in more complex levels as you can see where you've gone already. Players have the option to zoom in or out by tapping down on the D-pad to choose whatever perspective they're most comfortable with from a few fixed camera positions. The most important part of the visuals is the fact that targets are very easy to spot. Whether you're looking for blue cubes or the goal, you'll be able to spot what you're after from a significant distance.
The music is awesome and consists of a wide variety of electronica from house to drum and bass. Sound effects are well done as shooting sounds satisfying yet subtle and never becomes obtrusive. Objects explode quite loudly which adds a layer of satisfaction. Other sound effects such as hazards and projectiles are similar to effects that you would hear in an electronic music track and blend in nicely. If you happen to not dig the tune that's currently playing then you can always change it by pushing left or right on the D-pad.
The main game contains 5 sections that are divided into 10 levels each. Players can start from the beginning of each section so progression is gradual as these sections are challenging to beat. Each level is completed by destroying all of the blue cubes in order to expose a core cube. After destroying the core, the level is completed. Levels are diverse as they consist of combinations of various spacecrafts, cubes, wreckage, tubes, and trains. You will come across similar stages but they always contain new and more challenging obstacles. Most stages are narrow but some are wide which become problematic. The ship moves perpendicularly very slowly so navigating these wide stages becomes a chore and ends up feeling frustrating as you run out of fuel frequently. A bonus stage occurs in the middle of each section which involves navigating your ship through a series of rings. These are excruciatingly difficult as you start with only a sliver of energy. Only masters of the game will be able to complete them all. The end of each section is marked by a unique boss battle. Figuring out how to take down each boss is not always clear and is quite a fun challenge on its own.
Scoring big requires players to shoot as many cubes as quickly as they can. This increases their chain multiplier. Players also have a score multiplier that resets when the ship explodes. To maximize your score you must constantly take out cubes while avoiding touching anything. There are quite a few leaderboards to climb that motivate players to score as high as they can. Each level has three medals to unlock that correspond to completing the level under a target time, not dying, and obtaining a target chain. It's rewarding to get medals as most are very difficult to obtain. Features are unlocked as players increase their total cube count. Most of the unlockables are either new skins which are basically randomized colour schemes or more credits. The skins help make the game fresh as the same level looks different depending on its skin. Other unlockables include classic mode, the demo run, single levels, and Flappyridium. Classic mode is the original Futuridium EP which is similar to the main (Deluxe) mode with somewhat different levels and an inability to boost. Flappyridium is a take on Flappy Bird but it's extremely fast and very difficult to get more than 10 points.
A couple of features that would make Futuridium EP Deluxe a lot more enjoyable would be an aiming reticle and a rear-view mirror. It's hard to know where you're shooting most of the time since you can only judge by looking at your bullets which become too small to see as they travel away from you. Simply showing a reticle to indicate where your bullets will go would make shooting a lot less of a guessing game. Also, it's hard to tell what's directly behind you. When you push the button to turn 180 degrees, it takes half a second to turn fully so if an obstacle or projectile is right behind you then you don't have enough time to react and you will explode. Again, this is a simple solution as implementing a rear-view mirror would give players much more confidence before turning their ship around. These issues seem easy to remedy, yet they both add needless frustration to this otherwise solid game.
Futuridium EP Deluxe is a promising game with simple and tight controls. However, with a few difficult hurdles to overcome, it's hard to widely recommend as it should only be played by 3D space shooter fans who embrace a good challenge.
- + Simple and challenging gameplay
- + Great soundtrack comprised of various electronic music genres
- + Decent amount of unlockables
- - No aiming reticle or rear-view mirror
- - Moving the ship side to side can get frustrating
- - Some parts of the game are way too difficult