The developers of the excellent roguelite Xenon Valkyrie tackle the twin-stick shooter genre in this zombie-filled adventure.
Even if you didn't know that both Riddled Corpses EX and Xenon Valkyrie+ were created by the same developer, the art styles are so similar that you'd probably figure that out on your own. Both feature busty young women on the title cards and marketing materials as well as a simple (and occasionally muddy) pixelated style throughout the gameplay and cutscenes.
In Riddled Corpses EX, you can play as six different characters each with their own attack style and abilities although only a single character (Jon) is unlocked at the outset. The goal is to complete six progressively challenging levels filled with a decent variety of undead enemies. Each level takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete and consists of timed waves of zombies swarming your character. If you survive the wave, the screen slowly scrolls and you progress to the next timed wave.
Right away, it's pretty easy to tell that Riddled Corpses EX is going to be grindy. Your character Jon can be leveled up using gold which can also be redeemed for 3 other characters and additional weapons. One of the final characters can only be unlocked by upgrading 3 other characters to level 20. Needless to say, you'll be collecting and spending lots and lots of gold.
Upgrading and unlocking characters is very rewarding and it's great to watch your projectiles get larger and more powerful as you level up. Each character has damage, speed, projectile speed, and delay stats that make them stand out as unique and several characters have an additional ability like 2x gold, 2x health, and magnetism which helps you quickly collect gold dropped by slaughtered zombies.
While upgrading creates noticeable differences, the fact that there are only 6 relatively short levels in the campaign turns Riddled Corpses EX into a massive grind fairly quickly. The core gameplay is fun and the twin-stick shooting is smooth and satisfying but I just wish there were a lot more levels and maybe some objective variety so that I wasn't stuck replaying the same levels over and over.
If you're skilled at Riddled Corpses EX, you won't actually have to grind to unlock everything it has to offer. That being said, the last two levels are quite tough and I was unable to beat them using any of the first four unlockable characters so I ended up spending a lot of time replaying the fourth level while grinding to level everyone up to level 20 so I could unlock the fifth character (Erika). Then, I had to level her up as well. She's more powerful than any of the previous four and I was finally able to beat the game with her. At that point, I had played just over 8 and a half hours and over half of that time was spent repeating the same level while grinding for gold. However, you can play cooperatively with a local pal which is something I'd recommend doing to help lessen the boredom.
While Riddled Corpses EX's gameplay and upgrades are enjoyable, its lack of content and excessive amount of forced grinding simply to pad the game's longevity result in it being a mostly bland and repetitive affair.
- + Smooth and simple twin-stick shooting
- + Rewarding and useful upgrades
- + Nice selection of unlockable characters with unique stats and abilities
- - Lack of diverse and exciting content
- - Final levels can feel unfair
- - Anyone who isn't a twin-stick pro will be spending hours grinding for upgrades