Xenoraid is a vertically scrolling shoot ‘em up game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 and PS Vita. 10Tons have been in the videogame industry for over a decade and yet they still continue their incredible diversity in the genres they expertly tackle within their games such as match 3 puzzles in Sparkle and Azkend to physics based puzzles in King Oddball and even top-down shooters in Neon Chrome and Crimsonland that showcase a clear departure from one another coupled with an extreme amount of enthusiasm and imagination to deliver unique experiences. Can 10Tons’ Xenoraid achieve the quality of its inspirations within a modernised retelling of the shoot ’em up genre?
The story picks up in 2028 during a Phase II Combat Assessment in Earth’s orbit with previous events leading up to that moment including an alien fleet is detected heading towards Earth in 2021, attempted communication with the alien fleet in 2023 fails, existing spacecraft are converted into first generation starfighters in 2024.
Campaign mode comprises of over 40 procedurally generated missions and 4 boss battles that tells an ongoing story, while gradually introducing new gameplay elements such as learning evasive manoeuvres, larger enemies attacking in more powerful waves and incoming asteroids, although you will need to resume from the most recent checkpoint if a mission is failed potentially resulting in having to lose more than one mission’s worth of progress. Survival mode possesses procedurally generated endless survival gameplay in which players attempt to score as many points as possible by destroying a significant number of enemies throughout the duration of survival, although it progressively increases in difficulty the longer you survive with high scores uploaded to online leaderboards.
Ship design is quite varied as every ship features separate loadouts as well as different shapes, sizes and colour schemes throughout the 7 unique ships with the first two available being StarLite S4 and StarLite S-Mod with the further 5 ships being unlockable as you progress through the campaign. Larger enemies and boss enemies have more armour capable of taking more damage, while possessing powerful weaponry with the ability of destroying your ship very quickly. Even smaller enemy ships will approach from alternating angles and become gradually more equipped such as being able to engage a stealth cloak or warping between two areas to suddenly manoeuvre out of sight after firing devastating weaponry at your fighter.
Environment design is rather varied as planets are situated in the far distance such as Saturn with a giant ring around its circumference, Mars’ moon Phobos and Earth with plenty of clearly defined water, landmass and lights beaming from homes, while the foreground contains glittering stars, asteroids of varying sizes and a cosmic haze.
Tech upgrades are available from the tech lab, although the vast majority of the 13 tech upgrades need to be unlocked by successfully progressing further into the campaign and are purchased utilising credits that are rewarded for completing a mission and collected when destroying certain enemies and asteroids. Tech upgrades include Escape Pods at a cost of 450 credits that are equipped to fighters resulting in some of the fighter’s price being reimbursed according to the lost fighter’s pilot rank; Blaze of Glory for 200 credits equips a small nuclear warhead which is detonated when the fighter is destroyed, inflicting heavy damage upon surrounding enemies; Additional Armour at a cost of 800 credits equips extra armour plating providing a 20% boost in durability; Hail Mary Device costing 300 credits equips a single use plasma disruptor that is triggered when a fighter’s health drops below 30%, destroying all surrounding enemy projectiles; and much more besides.
In addition to the aggressive weaponry provided by purchasing tech upgrades; starfighters have their own built in weaponry including armour piercing rockets that are capable of inflicting significant damage to enemies and a .50 caliber heavy machine gun that inflicts a fair amount of damage due to its high rate of fire onboard the StarLite S4. StarLite S-Mod has a 75mm cannon which is a powerful light anti-tank gun modified to fit a wing mounted weapon pod, although it only holds five rounds of ammo and a flechette launcher which is essentially a super sized shotgun that blasts out hails of steel darts; and more besides.
Weaponry can also be purchased from the fighter bay to further customise your loadout before starting a mission as well as paying 50 credits to repair damage inflicted upon your ship in the previous mission. The StarLite S4 capable of having an internal gunmount fitted in the fuselage of the fighter to provide a second .50 caliber machine gun, improving the fire rate of the machine gun by 50% at a cost of 350 credits, while fragmentation rockets can destroy a group of lightly armoured targets costing 300 credits and chaingun overdrive considerably increases the rate of fire for 300 credits. StarLite S-Mod has the potential of a heat transfer chamber at a cost of 350 credits to super charge the cartridge with weapon heat resulting in increased damage by 40% when the launcher is nearing the overheat threshold; a cannon caliber upgrade costing 300 credits produces a 100mm cannon for a more powerful high caliber and a high velocity anti-tank gun; and an elongated cartridge for 300 credits to create larger cartridges containing more darts per blast of the flechette launcher.
Xenoraid supports cross-buy between the PS4 and Vita, although it unfortunately does not support cross-save, so you will not be able to continue from your previous progression on the Vita version when playing the PS4 version and vice versa. Cross-buy presents a superb amount of value as it means that you will be purchasing the PS4 and Vita versions of the game with just a single purchase.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the Vita with the control scheme consisting of pressing R to fire the primary weapon; pressing L to fire the secondary weapon; pressing triangle, square, O or X to switch to ship 1, 2, 3 or 4 respectively; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move your starfighter; and pressing start to display the pause menu, while the only major changes on the DualShock 4 controller include firing the primary weapon being re-mapped from R to R2 and firing the secondary weapon moving from L to L2. Surprisingly, there is no touch screen or rear touch pad controls on Vita, despite 10Tons’ Crimsonland previously featuring an accurate alternative touch screen control scheme for firing and aiming instead of pressing R and using the right analogue stick respectively, while the same can be stated for the DualShock 4 controller’s touch pad. Vibration on the DualShock 4 controller occurs when an enemy ship has fired a weapon at your starfighter or crashed into it, while there is also no light bar implementation which could have been utilised as a health indicator.
Graphically, Xenoraid may initially seem simplistic, although after a couple of levels you will be mesmerized by amazing explosions and particle effects which compliment the procedurally generated backdrops, while starfighters and enemy ships are animated excellently to create a wonderful sense of immersion in outer space. A post-launch update introduced PS4 Pro support comprising of superb 4K resolution.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great touch screen based user interface on Vita, despite the touch pad on DualShock 4 not being supported across various menus such as the main menu, campaign menus, survival menus, solo menus, co-op menus, extras menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left and right analogue sticks, directional pad and face buttons. The background of the menu screens consists of space debris including small asteroids and a panel from a starfighter floating past a nearby planet with the title logo stylishly presented in the top centre.
Characters communicate via stylish speech bubbles due to a lack of voice-overs which is the only facet of audio that could improve the immersion of the story. Sound effects include firing primary and secondary weapons at enemy ships, enemies firing at your starfighter, explosions and more besides which are complimented by yet another incredible atmospheric futuristic sci-fi soundtrack from award-winning composer Jonathan Geer. Surprisingly, there is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation, although the feature could have been utilised to produce sound effects or the soundtrack.
The trophy list includes 13 trophies with 6 bronze trophies and 7 silver trophies. The easiest trophy has to be the Vanguard bronze trophy for completing the first battle, although the majority of the trophy list contains harder trophies such as the Stellar Ace silver trophy for destroying 500 enemies with a single fighter during a battle and the Hard Fought Victory silver trophy for completing the campaign in hard mode. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 15 to 25 hours to 100% the trophy list.
There are technically multiple difficulty levels as missions will contain more waves or more enemies within waves as you progress further into the campaign, while procedurally generated gameplay will never result in an identical experience with everything being taken to an even higher difficulty level as hard mode will be unlocked after completing the campaign mode for the toughest challenge.
The cross-buy PS4 version includes local co-operative same screen multiplayer for 2 to 4 players throughout the campaign mode, while survival mode provides a form of competitive multiplayer by showing the amount of enemies destroyed and the score achieved by each player as well as the total score accomplished co-operatively at the end of each round.
However, there is no form of multiplayer on the Vita release of Xenoraid, although multiplayer functionality could have been achieved via ad-hoc multiplayer with another Vita, cross-play as part of the 4 player local co-operative multiplayer on PS4 or online multiplayer.
I would like to have seen a larger emphasis on competitive modes such as a deathmatch mode in which players would have their own set of 4 fighters per player with the final player to have a fighter remaining being the winning player, while an interesting deathmatch variant could have pitted the invading enemies against the starfighters with 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 1 or 2 vs. 2 gameplay. A further competitive mode would see players increasing the amount of enemies attacking their opponents by destroying a certain number of enemies, while also gaining better weaponry to create a greater reward for being the best player for a sustained period of time and making it harder for other players in the process.
The online leaderboards are focused on global rankings and friends rankings with each leaderboard containing each player’s rank; name (PSN ID); the highest amount of enemies destroyed; and the best points score in survival mode throughout each of the three planets in solo, 2, 3 or 4 players.
Xenoraid’s replayability is produced from a variety of features including procedurally generated missions, 7 unique ships to pilot, customisable and upgradeable loadouts, campaign and survival modes, online leaderboards for survival mode and an unlockable hard mode, while local co-operative multiplayer for 2 to 4 players is provided on PS4 which are all features that will collectively bring players back for an extensive period of time.
- Title: Xenoraid
- Developer: 10Tons
- Publisher: 10Tons
- System: PS4 and PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: Yes (PS4 and PS Vita)
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1/Online Leaderboards (PS Vita)/1-4/Online Leaderboards (Local Co-operative Multiplayer on PS4)
- Memory Card Space Required: 40MB/Hard Drive Space Required: 75MB