The idea of a cooperative online multiplayer twin-stick shooter is definitely promising. However, does RiftStar Raiders offer a satisfying campaign? Make room in your cargo hold and let's get ready to loot!
RiftStar Raiders is played as you would expect a twin-stick shooter to control. You fly with the left stick and aim with the right which also slows your ship down. Tapping the shoulder buttons allows you to fire a couple of different weapons, boost, and deploy a grappling device that you can use to pry open loot containers and drag certain assets behind you. Everything controls incredibly and the overall campaign is full of a variety of rewarding missions and scenarios. You'll find yourself carefully navigating through minefields, rescuing stranded ships, hacking into doors, stealing vaults, trying to protect specific crafts, and facing tough bosses. The campaign is basically only nine stages which doesn't sound like much but most take about half an hour to beat so you're looking at a fairly long game. It can be brutally challenging, too, so you're sure to reattempt many of the missions multiple times.
The visuals and sound in RiftStar Raiders are also sure to impress. Everything from the backgrounds to the enemy forces and terrain to points of interest are intricately detailed and stand out beautifully. The audio is superb as well with a subtle musical score that drones quietly in the background as the sound effects do all the work to make it an immersive soundscape. The explosions, gunfire, and embellishments are all super-satisfying. Overall, RiftStar Raiders is definitely one of the best looking and sounding shooters out there.
As you play, you'll amass in-game currency that you can spend on upgrading your ship. Each tier involves a decision as you have to choose which enhancement to enable while you sacrifice the other available options. This creates an open-ended progression system that's surprisingly rewarding as your ship turns from a generic model into a fully customised machine. It's great stuff.
So, where does RiftStar Raiders go wrong? First of all, the difficulty doesn't scale very well according to how many players are on your team. When you play solo, even the first mission can be a challenge and when you get just a handful of missions in, the difficulty is nearly impossible to overcome. Enemies will gang up on you and end your life in an instant which never feels fair. Even after upgrading your ship a significant amount and mastering advanced controls such as dodge techniques, the most seasoned twin-stick shooter veterans will likely become too frustrated to continue. It's downright brutal and there's no difficulty select either.
Of course, to alleviate this frustration, you can play with friends online. Although this sounds great, keep in mind that your options are limited. For starters, there is no local multiplayer at all. Why the heck not? Finally, I'm pretty sure that the only way to play online is by inviting friends because upon entering the online multiplayer mode, the only option is to invite friends. I tried waiting in this menu to see if any random folks joined but no one ever did so I'm almost certain that you have to invite friends to play online. Considering I don't have any friends who own RiftStar Raiders, I couldn't play online at all which is disappointing to say the least.
If RiftStar Raiders had a local multiplayer component, more accessible online matchmaking, and well-scaled difficulty then it would be a fantastic twin-stick space shooter. However, it suffers drastically from these shortcomings so download it with caution.
- + Solid twin-stick shooting with a variety of interesting missions
- + Fantastic visuals and audio
- + Satisfying upgrade system
- - Difficulty doesn't scale well at all for playing solo as it's far too frustrating
- - No local multiplayer component
- - Online multilayer is needlessly limiting