Tachyon Project is a fun, albeit short, twin stick arcade shooter in the style of Geometry Wars Retro Evolved. This genre has had somewhat of a revival of late, with an influx of games harking back to that retro arcade feeling of using one stick to move and the other to shoot, so what makes Tachyon Project stand out?
In the Tachyon Project you control Ada, an AI program that during the first tutorial level ends up thrust out in the World Wide Web. The game then has you control Ada across 10 levels as she tries to discover what happened to her “parents”, the Anonymous-wannabe programmers who created her. The first level does a good job of setting the scene, and the scenario presented works well to stitch the levels together in a way that adds to the gameplay as Ada hacks into various computer systems in an effort to find out what is going on. Enemies too are presented as anti-virus and anti-intrusion programs that are there to flush you out of their system, and as you progress from the early levels of hacking lesser protected systems to hacking things like Police servers, the security ramps up and thus the enemies themselves get trickier. As for depth, Ada can be upgraded, with options for 2 Perks, a Primary and Secondary Weapon, and a Shield, all with their own unlocakables available upon completion of a level or when a certain criteria has been met.
As with a lot of arcade shooters, Tachyon Project can be played in frantic, short burst of play, and Tachyon Project is ideally suited for this. Levels are quick, with multiple enemies spawning at once to share the rectanglular, top down gaming area, with the levels themselves able to be completed in around the ten minute mark without too much fuss. As for re-playability there is the obvious addition such as hi-scores and multipliers for killing enemies in quick succession, alongside the Story Mode + and Challenge options that are designed to be used once the main game has been completed.
I did find myself quickly dipping in and out of the Tachyon Project and the time I spent playing it I enjoyed, as it is one of those games that can be picked up and played with your brain in stand by mode. The customisation options are good and aid in making some of the trickier later levels more even, but a cumbersome design on the upgrade menu meant that I didn’t explore these options as much as I might have done as I found myself getting frustrated at trying to navigate to the correct area of the menu in order to upgrade, and this whole process felt trickier than it needed to be (I eventually wound up using the d-pad to navigate the menu as it gave me far greater precision, a little bit ironic in a game built around using the analogue sticks).
Tachyon Project is fun to play, and comparisons to the fantastic Geometry Wars are both merited and earned, both aesthetically and in how it plays, and this is in no way a bad thing – imitation being the highest form of flattery and all. The visuals of the Tachyon Project aren’t any thing to write home about, but the cut scenes that lay down the framework of the story are done in the style of a motion comic that fit the game nicely – a fully rendered next-gen cut scene would have felt out-of-place but these do the job that they are designed to in a way that fits the overall package of the game. The game itself is bright and colourful, with the enemies and Ada composing of simple geometric shapes of varying colour that help you to quickly identify each enemy type and quickly switch up how they can be handled, from the red and black Bulls who cannot change direction once they start charging, to the Constructor who will constantly build new enemies as they move around the screen until you take care of them. This does add a slight tactical element to gameplay, but moving and shooting still does the job, however knowing how to handle each one does make getting through each wave of enemies to the end of the level that little bit easier.
So overall, should you play Tachyon Project? If you like the faux retro arcade genre popular among many indie games, definitely – Tachyon Project isn’t a game I will sit and play until completion, but one of those that sits quietly and unassumingly in my Game Library for years, but one that I will still play long after many of my triple A games have been left on the shelf or traded in. Perfect in quick bursts or when you have a few minutes to spare, you can jump straight in and within seconds the control scheme is in place, and the story becomes superfluous to what is just fun, solid arcade game.
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