Thursday, August 21, 2014

Indie Impressions - Rex Rocket

Rex Rocket

Now Available on Steam

Developed by Castle Pixel

Rex Rocket is the story of a lone space captain awakening from cryo-sleep in the ruins of what was once a thriving and bustling space vessel transporting scores of important and renown scientists. What happened here to turn technology against its human creators? It's up to you to blast, explore and platform your way through the now overrun S.S. Montana in a fun and humorous throwback to the greatest period in gaming history with more than a few twists of its own.

Another excellent retro love-letter for those riding the wave of nostalgia currently hitting the indie scene via the likes of Shovel Knight; Rex Rocket takes the metroidvania formula we all know and love and layers it with an old-school charm that is impossible to resist.

Robot humor.

The combat in Rex Rocket is much flashier and faster paced than the classics we remember as you rush into different sectors of your doomed ship each more deadlier than the last, with guns blazing. The speed of your shots as well as the attacks of your oncoming foes is lightning-quick, and you'll take advantage of the fluid controls and employ ninja-like techniques including wall-jumping or even propelling yourself over gaps using your gun as a jetpack. The possibilities are limitless to how each player will handle any given situation.

The game is fiendishly difficult and a serious challenge despite the pleasing visuals, just enough to keep you focused and alert throughout. I was already dying miserably to the first boss but only due to my own lack of agility, as soon as I learned the patterns and was dodging every attack I had it down and was given a level of determination not felt since the 8-bit era.

You'll need to find every power-up item, utilize every weapon and technique, and apply the highest level of hand-eye coordination in order to surpass these very difficult battles. This is extremely reminiscent to how the bosses of the golden-era of gaming would beat you just hard enough to keep you coming back to that frustrating section for another try with new-found strategies.

Level designs here in general are nothing short of brilliant, the obstacles and enemies are all perfectly placed and their attacks expertly choreographed keeping you constantly on edge. The level design and platforming elements are really where the game shines, and definitely have received a huge makeover since the late 80's/early 90's titles that it draws inspiration from giving controls and combat that are much smoother and more precise. Rex Rocket is less stiff feeling and way more action packed than similar legends of the past, making it something much bigger than just a simple homage.

Still, so many of the best ideas are drawn from the original Megaman series and they work just as well as ever. These are mechanics that have withstood the test of time and remain solid after all these years.

You'll encounter the electronic 'Appearing Blocks' (also known as 'Buzzing Blocks') that fade in and out one after another from the iconic Magnetman stage of Megaman 3, the hovering shield bots patrolling back and forth that you can only hit from behind, the classic pixel gates on either side of a boss fight bringing us back to those fateful moments in Wily's Castle so many years ago.

Exploration and progression in Rex Rocket is probably the most enjoyable in the metroidvania genre of games I've felt since probably the GBA or DS Castlevanias, with a huge array of rooms to get sidetracked on during your trek to the current objective leading to increasingly helpful tools or shortcuts.

Taking detours into the more diabolical of rooms along your way is encouraged and extremely rewarding as well as satisfying as you'll come across plenty of game-changing items that add to your health, lives, overall ammo, and plenty of story tidbits in the form of 'Info Nodes' to find which fill you in on the rich and humorous sci-fi lore behind the game. Defeating each of the challenging bosses earns you crucial upgrades and new weapons, leading you back through areas you previously thought impossible to traverse providing immensely satisfying exploration of the gigantic map.

Although the visuals follow a generally retro-flavor the pixel art on the sprites have a detail and complexity to them that far surpasses their past counterparts. The backgrounds in Rex Rocket are immensely engaging and detailed featuring a great level of depth with twisting pipes, rotating gears and pulse-emitting motherboards reaching back for multiple layers. The rhythmic movements of the setting around you is complimented perfectly by the outstanding soundtrack provided by chiptune musician Saskrotch which, just like the game, further enforces that Megaman style all too well specifically of the 1-3 era.

Rex Rocket isn't just a love-letter to the golden-era of games, it's a solid addition to any modern action gamers' library. If you're looking for that next retro-flavored hit of precise and fluid platforming action and metroidvania exploration, Rex Rocket is an undeniably perfect combination of the best mechanics from the old and the new.

No comments:

Post a Comment