For a moment, I thought the game had slipped. This is all I have to do? Just shoot all of these enemy fighters down, and I get four different ships to do it? Okay then, let’s rock.
This was my first impression with Xenoraid, the vertical-scrolling shoot’em up game developed and published by 10tons Limited. The premise and object of the game is simple: take down enemy fighters, and don’t become asteroid fodder in the process. Xenoraid features a basic story, and is paired with decent visuals, good gameplay, and achievements. However, the game doesn’t present much to return to and isn’t memorable in its own right, making it a title that will find it hard to find its way onto Switch systems.
Let’s start with the story: it’s very mundane, but I wouldn’t have expected much else from this style of game. In fact, I may even commend 10tons for trying to implement a story. You take control of international groups of fighters, tasked with defending Earth from foreign entities, while making sure everyone stays safe, and alive, during the process. The story is very cliche but works well enough in this instance.
You take control of different squadrons of fighters and follow the missions, which are designed around destroying all enemies, rather than standard point A-to-B mechanics of other games in this genre. This means that enemy fighters simply respawn if you don’t destroy them the first time around, and the levels have varying degrees of difficulty due to the different crafts you’ll encounter. Essentially, the story is fine since it’s there, but nothing memorable and probably isn’t the focus anyway.
If it’s not focused on the story, then the game must focus on gameplay, and Xenoraid does try it’s best to do just that.
The controls are tight, and everything feels good. You control your fighters by using both triggers on the Joy-Cons to shoot, and switch to different fighters using the face buttons. Speaking of different fighters, Xenoraid is different than other vertical-scrollers as it lets you customize four different ships and take them into the mission with you. This allows some strategy which is seldom seen in titles like this. I enjoyed the premise and idea behind upgrading, but frankly the system used to do it all was lackluster. You collect credits at the end of each mission, and can use these to upgrade your ships: lower gun cooldown times, more damage taken, more rockets, etc. That’s pretty much it.
That being said, my biggest issue with it stems from the fact that there really isn’t reason to even pursue the upgrades, especially later on, as everything is practically the same from start to finish. Sure, the upgrades may help you for a particular mission, but they don’t transfer, and if your ship gets shot down then you can kiss them goodbye. Each planet’s missions have their own style of fighters and upgrades, but it’s all the same formula. Pair this with unchallenging enemies (even on the hardest difficulty), along with money being easy to come by, and towards the end missions were just flat out boring for me.
As far as what else the game brings to the table, the answer is an empathetic “not much.” There is a “Survival” mode, which players can test their skills to see how long they can last against challenging enemies, but there isn’t much incentive to do so.
“What games do I need?” In this age of gaming, this question gets asked a lot. With all of the great games being released over the past few months, it’s a fair question to ask yourself. 10tons has done a good job in making a game that is fun, and can be enjoyable over the course of small time periods, but nothing about it is memorable enough to warrant replay-ability, or simply keep-playability. The game itself is not badly made, honestly, it just features bland design, uninspiring gameplay, and by midway you’re just playing to play. There’s not enough to keep people interested, and with that in mind I wouldn’t want to spend more than $3 on this particular title. There are enough games out there that I couldn’t justify spending time on playing Xenoraid over other titles, and for that reason I don’t think I would recommend it, unless you are a fan of vertical shooters.
Caleb has been a gamer and Nintendo fan since picking up Pokémon Red for his Game Boy back in 1998, at the wee age of 4. He’s an avid Pokémon TCG collector, and is currently enjoying Breath of the Wild on Switch, along with PUBG on Xbox. He’s a fan of the outdoors when not writing, while also being an avid runner and world traveler. Give him a shout if you’re a fan of Arsenal FC.
Plays: Switch, 3DS, Xbox One, Pokémon TCG, and Various Board Games.