The twin-stick top down shooter genre has been – let’s be honest – done to death. And with the sheer number of platforms developers have at their disposal these days, it’s an easy starting template. Problem is, there are hundreds of the damn things and making one that stands out is an arduous task. At worst your game gets lost in the shuffle and at best your game is labelled a ‘pretty good Geometry Wars clone’.
Compromised by Super Soul certainly does not break any new ground in this territory, but fortunately it happens to be a pretty good, action-packed game that lasts a good four to five hours. So comparisons aside, the game delivers where it needs to.
For an indie game, there is a surprising amount of effort put into the story side of things, and full credit should be given to Super Soul for attempting something with a little more depth to it. While no means revolutionary (totalitarian leadership, viruses, war… the usual) it also helps break the flow between levels by giving short cut-scenes whilst unfolding more of the plot.
The controls are solid. The left stick moves the ship while the right stick shoots in whichever direction you push it. But the big issue is that you have bombs and missiles at your disposal using the top left and right triggers, but the missiles don’t fire in the direction of the right stick – which would be beneficial. Instead, they fire in the direction of the left stick, which is a pain as the best plan of attack is backtracking while firing behind, so to use the missiles means changing direction and then firing head on. This small detail almost ruins the game as using missiles simply isn’t worth it, as you will end up taking a hit anyway. This is also plays into the enemy’s AI, which from the get-go feels like they were programmed to follow you, from however far away. So the most sensible approach to attacking is the aforementioned backtracking method. While the standard enemies of the game are nothing more than cannon fodder, the boss battles are epic affairs, and the simplistic AI works well during the more intense moments of those fights.
The overall presentation is very well done and with the abundance of twin-stick shooters that drip with neon-glowing lights over the last five years or so, Compromised ironically stands out for going with the more traditional futuristic, war-torn setting. And the soundtrack is a sublime piece of work that would not sound of place on Half-Life – it is that good.
For what is an ambitious indie XBLA game, Compromised does a great job, and demonstrates just what can be achieved on this platform. It’s far from the best game of this genre, but hopefully Compromised can establish Super Soul is capable of bigger things.
This game was reviewed using a copy provided by the developer for that purpose.
P.S There are two free DLC packs in the works that will include “Survival” and “Hoard” modes.
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