Amongst the current landscape for retro-genre style games, Psycho Starship Rampage definitely stands out as faithful. Its faithful when looking at what Bullet-Hell games of the past played like, in comparison of the ones of the now-future. The iterations today lack a classic, no bars held that Psycho Starship Rampage brings back to a very successful level.
The premise of the game is that you are playing as a newly formed AI Spaceship, who suddenly realises just what a threat humans are. Having finally turned sentient, you blast your way across hordes of varying geometry-based enemies whilst constantly evading the oncoming armada following every step you take across the galaxy map. It’s a premise that serves its game play thematically well, with spaceships emitting various lines of dialogue to represent, in a humorous manner, they’re fear of this unknown threat. There are minor nuances present, such as occasional spoken dialogue and printed out computer text to give context to the current situation.
Presentation is also on the higher end of the quality spectrum. Bright colours fly with some very cool particle effects, all to the backdrop of seemingly 3-D rendered vistas. These vistas have some game-play connections e.g. asteroids will become a physical obstacle if the map is set in an asteroid field
Gameplay wise, everything feels like a traditional bullet hell shooter. The geometry aesthetic helps influence the design of the enemies, as they all consist of pre-determined combinations of blocks and polygons, all made up from the same palette. It helps lend a sense of sturdy flimsiness, where the enemies whilst difficult, explode spectacularly from their sections. Progression is held through upgrades and a galaxy map. Fighting waves of enemies, you’ll stumble across caches of data. Stay by these long enough and complete the level, and you will be rewarded with the location of an upgrade on the galaxy map, as well as other general upgrades. You navigate the star map per node (akin to FTL) in order to progress, but with an oncoming horde on your tail. They will never catch up if you can easily match the difficulty of the game, but fail once or twice and you will be spending a lot of time trying to gain ahead.
The system was surprisingly more in-depth than i expected, given also the bite-sized prize of the game. Upgrades are much more detailed in mechanics than they are when just collecting data. Your main responsibility when upgrading your ship, comes in its sections management screen. Effectively, you switch out different squares, rhomboids, triangles etc. to make up your ship, and depending on the size of your block, you can build a specific mechanic onto it. You can add an extra gun, wherever you want. Or maybe you need more ship-wide power, so you buy more generators. It’s a very fluid system with a surprising amount of thought needed to effectively keep your scaling curve in line with the games difficulty curve.
Psycho Starship Rampage does, in essence, live up to every part of your name. The psychopathic tendencies manifesting themselves within the main character propel you across all manners of death and destruction, with a fun and interesting combat loop based on modularity, flexibility, and just about whatever the hell you can think up. It definitely works, and for an indie-priced game, its hard not to see the value. You wont get a Triple-A experience; as to be expected. But for anyone looking for a classic throwback to what was, then its hard not to recommend this game to casual and experts alike.
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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