There's nothing quite like soaring through stages and shooting robots in space. Sublevel Zero Redux blends six degrees of freedom flight controls and RPG elements in a unique roguelike package so suit up and get ready to shoot the core.
Sublevel Zero Redux is played by piloting a craft in first-person. Seeing as this is a game that utilizes the six degrees of freedom setup, you can control the ship's pitch, roll, and yaw as well as move up, down, left, right, forward, and backward. Doing so may be a bit tricky at first but as you get used to flying through tight corridors and navigating your way through stages, you'll realise just how intuitive the controls are. As you move from room to room, you'll encounter a variety of small robot enemies that you can take out with different types of guns. Bullets are your standard shot, energy weapons regenerate ammo over time, and plasma firearms can be tricky to use so it's best to experiment with them before heading into tricky situations. You can always use secondary weaponry such as homing missiles and grenades if your standard guns just won't cut it. Overall, the combination of flying and shooting is implemented in a way that makes it an action-packed experience that's hard to put down.
On top of the core gameplay, you also have an extensive inventory system where you can craft new equipment and change your weapon loadout. Devising a setup that fits your play style and makes you a powerful robot-slaying machine is a very rewarding experiment. Ensuring your ship is capable of weaving past enemy projectiles, wearing heavy enough armour, and equipped with plenty of guns that can handle many tough situations can be difficult but it's worth the extra effort. You can throw away unneeded parts to make room for more health packs, too. In the end, these RPG elements complement the action-oriented gameplay perfectly.
Sublevel Zero Redux has a very distinct visual style in that textures are almost non-existent while stages are simplistically coloured to form a rather contemporary atmosphere. Although I enjoy this aesthetic a great deal, I must admit that it can be downright frustrating to navigate certain terrain. The most common example of this is complex areas that have a small offshoot from a hallway that's easy to miss. After flying by and checking the map, you'll see that you missed a turn at one point and have to backtrack in order to advance. Anyway, the audio is kind of disappointing as the music is composed of quiet chiptunes that don't fit the futuristic vibe. Sound effects are mostly generic, too, with stereotypical blasts and explosions but the chimes while collecting items feel rather rewarding.
Before I wrap up, I should mention that I experienced plenty of odd glitches. Whenever the action got intense with enemies flying all over and lasers sweeping through the room, the graphics would struggle thus making the frame rate drop to a couple frames per second or less. Whenever this happened, I didn't know what the heck was going on and perished as a result. A few times when this happened, the audio effects started looping then the game crashed. I was just about to blow up the reactor, darn it!
Sublevel Zero Redux is one of the most ambitious roguelikes due to its impressive combination of genres and intuitive gameplay. Although a few unfortunate drawbacks make it a less than stellar experience, genre enthusiasts should definitely check this one out.
- + Awesome shooting action with intuitive six degrees of freedom controls
- + Well-implemented RPG elements
- + Distinct visual style
- - Plenty of slowdown and glitches when the action gets too intense
- - Environments can be tricky to navigate
- - Mostly unsatisfying audio