Steredenn is a chaotic space shooter from developer Pixelnest Studio and published by Plug In Digital. The game has an awesome pixel art style and fun gameplay to match and feels very much like a classic side-scrolling space shooter that sees you fighting your way though multiple enemy crafts and some interesting boss battles. You play as a single ship, that looks miniscule in comparison to some of the ships you face. The most interesting twist and something we are seeing more and more in gaming is that the stages are randomly generated in typical rogue-like style.
I’m still not entirely sure whether this element of randomness impacts the game positively or negatively. On the positive, it allows for elements of surprise and keeps gameplay fresh, but on the flip-side it means that the difficulty doesn’t ramp up in a steady pattern like you would see in most games. I also missed having some kind of structure or series of stages to play through. I like knowing that I have cleared the first stage to move onto the next. I also appreciate games more when levels have been designed in a very particular and structured way with real attention to detail. The backgrounds pretty much stay the same throughout but the enemies and weapon choice brings a lot of variety.
When you start out you go through a brief tutorial that explains the basic controls. You move with the D-pad or left analog stick, shoot with X and change weapon with the square button. Gameplay with a controller was fluid and easy to pick up. Then you start out on your first mission and normally face a few waves of enemies before facing a boss. If you manage to keep progressing the bosses do start to become slightly trickier. You also have the chance to pick up various weapons when you destroy larger ships, like homing missiles and a flamethrower. Also when you defeat a boss they drop multiple boosts, of which you can only select one and your health is replenished. There are no checkpoints and when you die you have to restart. Steredenn basically works like an endless runner style game.
Enemies have certain have specific strengths and weaknesses. It becomes clear what weapons damage certain enemies by the red or orange glow they give when shooting them. Also if they flash a purple colour it means that you are heavily damaging them. Steredenn is extremely challenging and I found that I died a lot, especially to start with. You have a health bar to the top left of the screen which can deplete pretty quickly if you’re not careful. As long as you can make your way to the boss with as much health as possible you will be ok. The bosses are a highlight of the game and really do offer some interesting challenges that make you think about how to tackle each encounter. They come in many forms and each have certain attack methods and shooting patterns.
Asides from the main game there is also a daily run that sees you competing with other online players for the high score. I actually took my time with this review so I could try a few daily challenges, which are certainly worth playing. I especially enjoyed one particular challenge where you use mines to destroy enemies. Superplay mode is available once you finish the main game. This means you can remove some of the random elements from the game. Arena mode is where you can fight bosses that you have already encountered. This is a great mode for practicing your skills and trying out different weapons to see what’s most effective.
The presentation of Steredenn is great and like I said it has a vibrant pixel art style which makes it feel like a classic space shooter. The backdrops are nice to look at but I would have liked to have seen a bit more variety in terms of locations. The ships and enemies look great and I especially liked the chainsaw style enemy ships that try to cut through you. The screen is often filled with ships, bullets and even asteroids and considering there’s so much going on the game runs really well. The sound design is also really well done, with arcade-like sound effects and catchy soundtrack.
Overall Steredenn is a decent side-scrolling space shooter that offers a real challenge. The rogue-like element and lack of stage structure may put some players off, and I have to say that I personally disliked this factor. The shooting and controls are easily accessible but the game is tricky to master, which is what you want from this type of game. The bosses are great fun to take on and the daily challenge is a real highlight of the game. I would recommend this game if you like a challenge but maybe don’t expect to want to pour hours and hours into this game.
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