When a cool shoot 'em up releases, I just have to play and review it so here's the stylish and intuitive Risk System from Newt Industries.
If you're a shoot 'em up fan and see that there's a game in the genre called Risk System, you know what it's all about right off the bat. You fly a ship around while narrowly avoiding enemy fire and the closer you are to it, the more of a boost your shots get. On top of that, your score will increase more and you'll charge a Barrier Breaker move that makes you temporarily invulnerable and I do mean temporarily; blink and you'll miss it! The basic controls are super-simple as you automatically shoot by default and can press a button to use your Barrier Breaker as well as barrel-roll up and down the screen by the tap of a shoulder button which lets you move faster and escape lock-on attacks. It comes together to make an intuitive formula that shmup newbies can enjoy while veterans can try to achieve high scores.
Now, although I've seen some folks say that Risk System's bullet-grazing mechanic is new and makes the genre feel fresh and exciting, it's far from it since I've played many shoot 'em ups over the years that utilize a similar gimmick. For example, Gundemonium lets you perform a Friction Burst by flying close to projectiles while Shikhondo has a nearly identical implementation, Gunbird 2 rewards you for deploying bombs while close to bullets, Danmaku Unlimited 3 gives you a score boost, and even the dodge 'em up Don't Die, Mr. Robot grants you points for grazing past enemies. There are a lot more examples but you get the idea; it's been done many, many times before.
So, if Risk System isn't all that original; what makes it stand out? For starters, its enemy placements and attacks will definitely keep you on your toes so it's certainly not one of those shmups that has you merely go through the motions then face a boss. Speaking of which, the boss fights are fantastic as each one poses a unique situation with its own distinct move set and attacks. In fact, some of them act like puzzles that you have to figure out before you can defeat them effectively and that's something that I thoroughly appreciate.
With that in mind, I did find some scenarios and bosses to require a bit too much memorization which I don't like because it means that you have to retry with newfound knowledge in mind instead of merely relying on your skills and intuition. For example, there are boss attacks that require a fully-charged Barrier Breaker to survive and other attacks will force you to hide behind certain background structures. When you first face these bosses, automatically knowing that you'll have to do such things is highly improbable.
Anyway, let me discuss some odds and ends before wrapping this up. Risk System's graphics are stylish, slick, and sharp which is great, especially when you factor in the unique environments and enemy types. Plus, its sound effects are spot-on and double as audio cues for enemies locking onto you, etc. On top of that, there's even voice acting in the little cutscenes which is a nice bonus although the music is mostly generic. Back to the gameplay; I wish that it featured more elements such as a bomb attack because it feels a bit empty, primarily after you master the basics which doesn't take long. Similarly, there's a lack of content, too, with only 1 campaign mode to play through and very little extra content. Heck, even the options are barebones. You could always replay for better scores, though.
Although loads of shoot 'em ups have incorporated a similar grazing gameplay gimmick before, Risk System manages to still forge its own identity in the genre with its easy to pick-up-and-play controls, rewarding boss fights, and stylish graphics.
- + Intuitive shoot 'em up gameplay with a well-implemented proximity mechanic
- + Bosses feature clever move sets
- + High quality visuals and sound
- - Challenge relies too much on memorization
- - Could use more gameplay elements
- - Lacking in options and extra content