Xeodrifter Review


Xeodrifter is the second Atooi Switch release that I recently picked up on sale. It’s a title that I have had my eyes on since its initial release on the Nintendo 3DS. Mostly because I was obsessed with Mutant Mudds at the time, but also because a good Metroid-like game is a pleasure to play. Xeodrifter does get a lot of things right, but also falls short in other areas, so it’s fair to say it doesn’t realize its full potential. With that being said, let’s jump in and explore the joys and cons of Xeodrifter.

Light, Linear Exploration

Xeodrifter gives the player an illusion of exploration and does so by offering the player four different planets to visit. I personally love the idea of being able to visit different planets, however, each planet is quite small and not much can be done unless you have the necessary ability needed to “explore.”

When I first played, I just picked a random planet and started playing. I soon encountered a powerful enemy and was met with an early death. I picked another planet, and ran into an environmental roadblock that I couldn’t pass. This continued until I found the correct planet to actually start progressing through the game. This may seem like it offers the player the ability to explore, but all it really does is punish your curiosity until you find the correct, linear path.

Your main objective is to locate and confront the boss character of Xeodrifter. When the game begins, your map will fill up with seven heat signatures that tell you where each boss encounter can be found, so a bit of the wonder of exploring is taken away from you. When you reach and defeat a boss, you will receive a new ability (all of which are great) that must then be used to reach the other boss locations. This is the heart of Metroid-like gameplay, though it is done on a smaller, less confusing scale. There are a handful of truly hidden areas to find, however, you’ll mostly just go from boss location to boss location, while picking up barely hidden upgrades when you can finally access them.

As a whole, the gameplay works fine, but the game does lack that feeling of exploration that made other games in the genre memorable. You could say that Xeodrifter feels more like Metroid lite than an inspired adventure of its own.

Xeodrifter’s Emphasis on Run and Gun is Fun

Xeodrifter’s gameplay shines brightly in one particular area and that is its focus on run and gun action. This is evident with the unique gun system offered to players. Throughout the game, you will pick up gun upgrades that you can use to modify your gun. You can place the upgrade in one of five slots, with each slot adding, or upgrading your gun’s attributes. Some of the things you can alter are the speed of your gun’s shot, the strength of your shot, or the way in which the shot behaves. This gameplay mechanic alone makes Xeodrifter a joy to play because you’ll be constantly customizing your gun depending on the situation at hand. Some enemies may be better taken care of using strong wave shot, while a more SMG-like approach is appropriate elsewhere.

Repeat Boss Encounters

Perhaps the biggest downfall of Xeodrifter is found in its repeat boss encounters. You will fight the same boss throughout the entire game. Each boss encounter will add new attack patterns, though fighting that boss quickly grows tiresome. I think Xeodrifter could have easily added thrown other boss designs with more unique attack patterns at the player, but it feels like each encounter here was rushed to get the game out the door. There is definitely a lack of creativity found here, and if I’m being honest, Atooi, in general, seems to struggle with creating boss encounters for their games.

Atooi Doesn’t Struggle Graphically

While boss encounters aren’t a strong point for Atooi, they definitely know how to create gorgeous looking games. Each planet has its own look and feel, and the NES-inspired sprites are a pleasure to view. This game falls into that “12-bit” category that was coined for Mutant Mudds, which is a style that I have grown to adore. If I were to criticize one aspect here it would be to have different looking bosses. Atooi is certainly capable of delivering unique visuals and creative enemy designs, so they could have also extended that to new boss designs.

Another Musical Delight

Much like how the game’s visuals are unique for each planet, Xeodrifter does something similar with its soundtrack. Adding to the atmosphere of each planet is a unique tune that makes it feel like you are stepping foot into another world. Music is handled by a three person team this time around instead of Troupe Gammage, and it can definitely be felt. I mean that in a good way, because these tunes seem more appropriate for adventure, instead of the more athletic, catchy approach seen in platforming games.

Conclusion

Xeodrifter is a joyful game to play, even if it does fall short of its inspiration. The gameplay in general is pretty solid, particularly with its fun and interesting gun mechanics, though more emphasis on exploration would be welcomed with open arms. It can be taken down in a short amount of time, so you’ll expect to be done with this game at around the three hour mark. I feel like this is a game that desperately needs a sequel with a bigger, more intricate world to explore, as well as new bosses, abilities, and gun mechanics. Xeodrifter is definitely a worthwhile experience if you’re craving a light, Metroid-like experience.

Final Score: +2

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