By Justin Guillou / May 16th, 2015
|Publisher||Reverb Triple XP|
|Release Date||April 28, 2015|
|Genre||Shoot ’em up|
|Platform||PC, PS Vita, PS4, Xbox One|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Teen|
Project Root is a new shoot ’em up that recently came out on the PlayStation Vita, which is great because I feel this genre can work very well on Sony’s little handheld. So, naturally, I went into this one with fairly high expectations.
You play as a group of rebels out to expose and foil an evil corporation’s plans and save their community. The problem I have with the story is not the narrative itself, but, rather, how it is presented. There are dialogue scenes before and after a level that feature Lance, the main playable character, and Sync, his navigator. They only have one portrait each except for the ending. So, you are constantly seeing the same artwork over and over again. Also, the font size in these scenes is way too small. This seriously becomes a problem during the in-game cutscenes because the dialogue box appears in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. When I am in mid battle and bullets are flying at me, I won’t be paying attention to the font in the lower corner. If these scenes had voice acting, it might not have been as much of an issue, but, unfortunately, they don’t.
The in-game menus are simple, yet confusing at the same time. You would think all you have to do is use the D-pad to navigate the menu options, right? Well, some menu options actually require you to use the touch screen, and it is not clear which options need it. When you finally get around to selecting a difficulty among the three available, you can start a level and get into the gameplay.
Unlike many scrolling shooters out there, you have free movement over your ship in Project Root. The left analogue stick moves your ship, while the right one rotates it. You fight two types of enemies: airborne planes which you can shoot with your main attacks or enemies that travel on the ground which you can shoot these little missiles at. It plays a bit like Xevious or Twinbee, but with controls similar to Asteroids. There are power-ups you can get as you defeat enemies, such as special weapons, extra lives, life-ups or shields. The special weapons are useful, but, unfortunately, only one of them is effective against both enemy types, which is the homing missiles. The laser or scatter shots will miss the grounded enemies. The enemies themselves are fairly well detailed, and the visuals, while nothing to really write home about, do their job. To be honest, you will spend more time worrying about how to fight the enemies than admiring the level.
Throughout the levels, you will be given various tasks to complete, such as destroying a certain object at an enemy base, surviving for a specific amount of time, escorting an NPC or getting to a new location. Each time you complete a task, a dialogue scene will appear, and you will be given your next mission. There is a radar on screen and a green arrow that will point you in the right direction to show you where you need to go. The radar also shows you enemies. However, they come in so quickly, I feel the radar is often unable to keep up with them. Project Root is not shy with the enemy placement. They come from all directions, so you have to be on your toes while playing this. Unfortunately, your ship always stays towards the bottom of the screen making it tricky to dodge shots from behind at times.
These levels are fairly long and challenging, and losing all of your lives means you have to redo the entire mission. That’s right, if you make it all the way to the boss and die, you have to do it all over again. Thankfully, the missions go by much faster once you know what to do and where to go. The bosses are often huge battleships that throw everything and the kitchen sink at you. Seriously, it becomes a bullet hell during these parts, and I am all right with that. The only thing that would have made these boss fights better is if there were some truly heart-pumping, hot-blooded beats blasting as soon as you encounter them. Instead, you are given some incredibly forgettable music, which also applies to the actual levels. When you complete a level, you are awarded experience which can be used to upgrade your ship’s shields, speed or firepower to make the game easier. You will need these upgrades since Project Root is a really challenging game. Before you upgrade your ship, you are very slow, enemies take a while to destroy and they can drain your health really quickly. However, once you are powered up, you can deliver the pain twice as hard which means MORE EXPLOSIONS!!!!
For what it is, Project Root works, but I have seen the formula done a bit better before. I do hope OPQAM takes the engine here and makes another game like it that improves on the presentation and polishes the gameplay a bit more. I would like to see them make the most out of the potential that is displayed here. Project Root currently costs about $10 which, while not terribly expensive, there are better games out there.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
PlaystationProject RootPS VitaShmupshoot that core son!Sony