Few genres have endured so well as the bullet hell games. While platformers have dabbled with a 3D format, RPGs have branched out into multiple forms and FPS releases have a new trick at every turn, you know exactly what to expect with a shoot ‘em up: Lots and lots of projectiles. There’s an odd purity thanks to this, a distinct sense of hardcore arcadey fun, where you can pick up and play in an instant but find yourself against near impossible odds. Xenoslaive Overdrive follows this format, but with one or two minor tweaks.
Promoting itself based upon a fractal aesthetic, the game leaves you weaving your way through wave upon way of specific assault patterns. While minimalist, this allows the entire level to transform at a moment’s notice, with enemies warping in shape and design in a split second. You never wholly know what a new level might bring, and the bright saturated colours offer a psychedelic kaleidoscope of death to navigate your way through. Furthermore, the game offers a multitude of modes to work through, from one which grants you the ability to shoot bullets out of your path to controlling how dead-on each strike needs to be in order to take you out. Better yet, more than a few variations of classic weapons always show up, from the ever popular 6-way spreads to more explosive alternatives.
However, while the fractal designs of Xenoslaive Overdrive might be aesthetically pleasing to some, when compared to many other releases it appears unfortunately quite bare-bones. Bereft of more intricate backgrounds or solid details, the levels quickly become extremely samey and surprisingly easy to any addict of this genre. It makes the projectiles easy to track and a cinch to avoid, as there’s little to get in the way of you tracking the exact firing patterns or learning how to swoop around a boss’ arc of fire. This makes it perfect for leaning the genre’s core mechanics, but leaves little depth to those familiar with the genre. Furthermore, with only six levels to work through, you can easily fight your way through the game with relative ease, and the multiple play-throughs will only appeal to avid completionists.
Still, while it’s definitely no Ikaruga, Xenoslaive Overdrive nevertheless offers enough innate fun and creative boss battle choices to keep things interesting. Gamers looking for an easier entry into the genre than Jamestown or the Touhou series would do well to give this one a look, but veterans will likely find it a little too easy.
XENOSLAIVE OVERDRIVE / DEVELOPER AND PUBLISHER: EVXIO / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW