Space can be a lonely place, especially when your ship gets damaged by an asteroid. Xeodrifter tries to emulate Metroid mechanics in almost every way, but does it live up to the classics or is it simply not enough to satisfy your retro cravings?
You play as a lonesome space explorer who must investigate four small planets in search of a way to fix his broken ship. As you run, jump, and shoot your way to uncover these planets' maps, you'll unlock new abilities and hidden upgrades. As with most games in the genre, you gain access to new areas after acquiring additional abilities. These include being able to travel underwater in a submarine, teleport into the background, dash, rocket into the air, blast through tough obstructions, and warp through walls. You'll also come across hidden areas by shooting or merely walking through certain weak or false walls. Many of these secret rooms contain upgrades in the form of health increases and gun power-up points. You can assign these points to any of five categories that aren't explained in-game, but that makes it all the more fun to experiment. By the end of the game, you'll be quite pleased by how much you've grown throughout your journey as you reflect on all of your newfound moves and firepower.
Controlling your spaceman is simple with Xeodrifter's intuitive gameplay. The only part that isn't intuitive is switching between your regular weapon and your chargeable one (after you unlock it) since this is done on the touch screen. It's a small complaint since you don't need to use it often, but it is annoying since it's the only gameplay control that requires touch. Besides that, you'll find yourself speeding through the maps as you dash, fly, and warp with efficiency due to the responsive controls. It can be a joy to play.
Xeodrifter looks good with decent old-school visuals and matching music. Character and enemy animations are done smoothly which adds some needed exuberance to the graphics. The planets themselves have distinguishable topography that allows you to discern features easily although there isn't much difference in the way each planet appears. In the end, the only major distinction is their colours. 3D effects as you alternate between planes make this feature an amusing addition as it shows a great deal of depth. The sound effects as you shoot and destroy enemies aren't anything special, but their simplistic and repetitive pops and blasts are actually quite charming. Overall, it's not a definitive retro experience but it is somewhat faithful to the games of decades past.
One of the best moments of Xeodrifter comes in the form of simply wandering around, exploring, and finding secrets. However, when you take away this aspect, the entirety of the game is ultimately a brief and small-scale journey. The four maps can be traversed in a matter of minutes so the bulk of the time that you spend with Xeodrifter relies heavily on exploration. In other words, if you use a guide (which would take a lot of enjoyment out of the adventure) then you can complete everything in one sitting. That being said, you may resort to using a guide for the fact that you can't place marks on the maps. When you find an area that requires an ability that's not yet in your possession, your only way of remembering its location is by using your noggin.
Before receiving your next ability, you'll face a boss. Does that mean that there are multiple bosses to fight? You'll be surprised to find out that the answer is no. As it happens, you'll face the same boss seven times. Sure, every time you battle it, it's more difficult and has new abilities, but that doesn't make up for the repetitiveness of having to encounter it on so many occasions.
It may not be anything especially spectacular, but upon completing Xeodrifter, you surely won't regret the time that you've spent with it. In the end, it definitely beats floating around the ether with nothing to do.
- + Tight controls with rewarding upgrade mechanics and unlockable abilities
- + Exploring and finding secrets is enjoyable
- + Solid retro feel with great 3D effects
- - If you ignore the fact that you're lost most of the time, it's a very short experience
- - No way to place marks on the maps
- - Only one boss that's repeated seven times