You know surely know what it’s like to play a classic space scrolling shooter: blowing up ships while simultaneously avoiding all the shots being taken at you. It’s absolute chaos. You also know how rhythm games work. It boils down to some action or range of actions being taken that sync in with stage music. 24 Caret Games have developed a hybrid of those two genres, with an extra added twist.
Retro/Grade follows the story of a space pilot Rick Rocket, who at the start of our journey, just finished his last space battle and saved the universe. However, due to his battles, the space-time continuum is in trouble. Rick Rocket must travel backwards in time and repeat all of his battles in reverse.
While this sounds complicated, the gameplay is simple. Depending on the difficulty you play on, there are multiple lanes Rick Rocket can pilot his spacecraft in. Each lane has a color designation, so something like Rock Band or Guitar Hero. Now, instead of flying left to right, you fly right to left. Instead of avoiding enemy fire as it comes towards you… you avoid enemy fire as it comes back to the enemy ships. Instead of firing at enemy ships… you have to catch your shots as they come back to your spacecraft.
Again, it sounds complicated, but it’s a lot easier than it sounds. That being said, it’s not too easy. Well, it is if you play on the easy difficulty. But as you increase the difficulty level, the more lanes there are to maneuver in, the faster the pace goes, and the more chaos there is on the screen.
You can play the game with a standard controller or even a guitar controller. The standard controls work great, and are very responsive. I cannot attest to the guitar controls however, as I did not have a guitar controller at my disposal. The only downside to this gameplay is that unlike standard rhythm games, you can’t really tell what to do based off the beat of the music. Which means that, while Retro/Grade’s stages have specific music, and the stage design is centered around that music, you still really have to pay attention to what is happening on the screen…and that can be hard to do the more that happens at once time. The stages are filled with awesome visuals, and extremely colorful. While it is very pretty to look at, it can be distracting at times.
There only a handful of levels that don’t last too long, so it’s a fairly short game to complete. However there is a lot of replay value in Retro/Grade. Increasing difficulty as well as the constant need to achieve 100% perfection in each stage. There are also a large amount of special challenges you can try, to further increase your playtime with this game.
Ultimately, for what Retro/Grade sets out to do, it does the job well. There could be room for improvement, but 24 Caret Games did a great job. However, while there is replay value because of the amount of challenges to complete, attempting to play all of Retro/Grade would essentially feel like a chore at some point. The gameplay is just a little too simple and lacking. Even with the added chaos that comes with increased difficulty, the core component of gameplay is not exciting enough.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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