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Xeodrifter – The Switch Island Review

Xeodrifter is an 8-bit Metroidvania Indie game that has been stripped back to its roots. But don’t let that fool you, this game is brutal. Simplistically brutal, shall we say, and harkens back to the ’80s level of difficulty at times.

The premise is simple; whilst minding your business out and about exploring the galaxy, your ship is struck by a meteor causing damage to the engine’s core. Conveniently for the explorer, you find yourself smack back between four planets, each of which hold ability, weapon and health upgrades and the material to repair your ships core.

The game just chucks you straight in, with no explanation of where to go first. Each planet is progressed by shooting your way past a (limited) selection of enemies to unlock a new abilities for your suit. This upgrade then allows you go deeper into another planet to unlock the next ability to go back to previous planets to rinse and repeat the formula.

The new skills are obtained through defeating the several bosses, all identical in appearance (except colour), but each one possessing different abilities and attack patterns. This is where things become challenging. These boss fights can be savage. Many a time I had to attempt them over and over to limp my way to victory, and the second to last boss occupied me for a good 40 attempts! Thankfully I never felt that I died unfairly due to the games design and mechanics, and settled myself into the fact the that I can’t pay these types of games for toffee.

The game employs a fairly minimalistic 8-but style, which really adds to the charm overall but I can appreciate how this may not be to everyone’s taste, especially given the quality of other similar titles out currently. The soundtrack is also effective in using 8-bit melodies to compliment the scenery and fights.

The gameplay is pretty solid, and while the controls take a small amount of time to get to grips with, you settle down fairly quickly. The movement is fluid and responsive, and the HD rumble compliments the action very well.

The various abilities were, I felt, a nice touch, especially the ability to “plane shift” where you disappear and reappear in the background, but trying to chain these abilities together sometimes felt like a hit or miss affair. Just watch out for the long lava pools with phase shift and fast run requirements when you’re heading back to the start of the level after winning the ability, and to save your progress. You’ll soon find out what I mean here…

Overall, this is a fairly enjoyable romp, but on many an occasion I had to resist the urge to send my controller flying off to a far flung galaxy, which, I suppose is part and parcel of the experience. For when you succeed against a boss, there is a great sense of accomplishment in that you didn’t give up after the first 39 tries!

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