Space-based shoot ’em ups were all the rage back in the 80s. Fast paced, action packed and always challenging, it was easy to see why these games always gobbled up people’s pennies at the arcades, but they’ve dropped off a bit in recent times. With the advances in technology, gamers wanted a bit more story, a bit more depth to their gaming experiences, so the popularity of the crazy space shooter started to wane. There have been a few attempts over the years to bring back the genre, but none have really been a runaway success. One game hoping to achieve a bit more joy in the genre is Cycle 28, which promises the arcade fun of a shoot ’em up, but combined with a few other elements to keep players interested.
Pew Pew Pew
I’ll admit that I’m not the fondest of bullet-hell type games. They offer a hefty challenge and unless you’re seriously adept, there’s very little reward at the end of them. Cycle 28 isn’t quite a bullet hell game, though there are certain sections that can get a bit hairy. It walks a fine line between fun and challenging, but it manages to balance the two very well. At no point did I feel, after I died, that I was overwhelmed or that I could’ve done nothing about it. It just felt like I could have done something better, and to learn from that for my future games. It was fun, the battles were really enjoyable, and when you manage to take down three or four of the larger ships and escape by the skin of your teeth, it’s such a rush, especially when they employ some tactics you’ve not seen before.
I can’t really say that the presentation of Cycle 28 is very much to write about, but there is one facet of it that really does deserve a mention, and that is the soundtrack. It’s genuinely one of the better soundtracks you’ll hear in an indie game. It has some incredible crescendos, and, before all the fighting starts, some really nice, atmospheric tunes. In my first game, when I was still figuring everything out, I was more than happy to float around for the entire duration of the game, because it was accompanied by such a fantastic soundtrack.
When I started the game, I had no clue what the controls were, or what I was supposed to do. I hit the ‘usual’ buttons, thinking that they would be ones I could use to move around, but I couldn’t find a ‘shoot’ button. So for a few minutes, I thought this game was about floating around in a white box that destroyed you if you tried to go through it. Even after I looked at the controls menu to see what the shoot button was, I didn’t really know what I had to do. I can understand that, sure, you’re supposed to keep shooting at things until the day resets again and everything, but after a few rounds, I wasn’t gripped by the story. I didn’t really care about why I was trapped in this endless cycle, I was just enjoying killing people. But, because that’s a fairly shallow feature in a game, I grew tired of it fairly quickly. It was nice that I was beating my high score and all, but with no real direction in the game, I didn’t want to put the effort in.
The Final Word
I’m not really a huge fan of shoot ’em ups, purely because I’m not very good at them, but Cycle 28 is different. I am actually finding myself going back and playing it, even just for five minutes to shoot up some ships. I found it tricky to get too invested into the story, but it does add an extra dimension onto the game, beyond just mindless shooting. The soundtrack as well is lodged in there as one of my favourites of the year, so it’s definitely well worth getting.