“The more, the merrier” must have undoubtedly been the mindset at work for dual stick shooter, Tachyon Project. This little indie packs a laser piercing punch in the twin-stick shooter genre. From dozens of enemy types, to numerous ship configurations and weapon upgrades, Eclipse Games wanted to pull no stops here. Tachyon Project puts an all you can eat buffet before retro shoot em’ up fans everywhere. But sometimes, even the best side dishes can’t make up for lack of meat on the plate.
Tachyon Project tells the story of a software hacking program named Ada. Created by two hackers, or her “parents” as she refers to them, her purpose is to hack into the highest secured servers around the globe. When her “parents” disappear while she is in a hacking training exercise, she is launched into the real Internet, leaving her to fend for herself. She now must embark on a quest to try and make her way back home, and figure out what happened to her creators. Credit must be given to developer Eclipse Games for making an attempt at a unique tale for this new entry into the ID@Xbox library. But, there’s way too much plot here for a game that does so little in return on the gameplay side. The story tries to awkwardly meld itself with the twin-stick gameplay. I see the efforts implied, but in the case of this simple dual-stick shooter, the story seems to be shooting blanks.
The game is broken up into 10 levels. Each level is built upon waves of enemies that you must blast your way through to progress. Each wave begins showing you a countdown clock, the only way to prevent the clock from hitting zero and failing the wave, is by killing enemies. Each kill adds more valuable seconds to the countdown. The waves consist of different objectives within them, which I suppose was a way to cut away at the repetitive nature. It does not work. Some of the objectives include killing mobs of certain enemy types, staying alive for a period of time, or boss battles on select levels. This all becomes tiresome and drab by the midpoint of the game.
Even with all the enemy types and ships upgrades, Tachyon Project does not offer enough to truly keep you engaged. Level designs are all identical for the most part, and offer nothing fun and new to keep you anticipating one level to the next. It would have been refreshing to have seen more thematic design applied to each level, or environmental elements to change up the “shoot everything” mentality. Additionally, one inconsistency that continues to be one of my biggest pet peeves in gaming are unnecessary difficulty spikes. Going from levels 1-5 you will encounter an even flowed challenge, then out of nowhere an unforgiving boss wave. Then back to normal waves with expected increasing difficulty, then to an almost abnormal feeling difficult wave, then back again. Even with new unlocked weapons/abilities like freeze bombs, missiles, and the shotgun, nothing can make up for the spike in difficulty at certain points. It really dampened the pace of the already lacking gameplay experience.
In terms of controls, Tachyon Project performs competently. The left stick is your sole movement input, and allows you to control the ship in a 360 degree manner. Your right stick is for firing and follows the same suit for 360 degree movement. Gliding your ship feels smooth and responsive, and is easy to get in and out of enemy droves. The controls are just as comparable to genre A-Listers like ResoGun and Geometry Wars, and that’s a very good thing.
Graphically, Tachyon Project can stand on its own just fine. Luminescent colors and tight textures look exceptional here. The glowing bright streaks of lasers feverishly ripping across the screen, carry a joy all on their own. Tiny particle effects emitting off of destroyed enemies are also a nice visual treat. The only drawback here would be the boring cutscenes after levels. Sketched illustrations with text don’t really hold to the same standard the gameplay delivers.
Audio design for Tachyon Project is passable. For the most part it almost feels like dance club EDM style music. At points it can actually be a little distracting when trying to focus, especially while being swarmed by AI. Big bass and super synthesized keys, with a modern techno sampling is primarily what you’ll get here to greet you at every wave. It’s not poor audio, it’s just not a compliment to the experience in my opinion.
Tachyon Project takes the traditional dual-stick shooter formula and tries to beef it up with an expansive variety of enemy types and a decent story. Not all shots hit their mark here, while some parts are enjoyable, Tachyon Project is not something everyone will want to waste their bullets on.
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