By Henry Badilla / September 5th, 2017
If there is a genre that has been with video games from the very beginning is the Shoot-em Up or SHMUPs. And while not the first, games like Gradius and R-Type set the bar for what a Bullet Hell could be. Unfortunately, the genre might not be as popular as it was before, but every now and then we run into a new game trying to make its name in the scene. I’ve been playing Defenders of Ekron for a bit and here are my impressions of it so far.
The game takes place in the world of Ekron, in which exists an energy called Oxus which flows through all. Some people are able to control this energy and are usually trained from youth to be part of the army as pilots. Eneas is our protagonist, a good pilot who is about to graduate. As you might expect things go south during his final test and his ability to use Isvará, a special power that only pilots can use, doesn’t activate as expected. But that’s just the first of his worries, not long after that a group of terrorists attacks the capital and he must defend his city against a group of rebels and traitors.
In general, SHMUP games are considered difficult, and this is no exception. I died many times during the tutorial. And that is just a small taste of what’s to come, this game is hard and it will punish you if you think you can just keep shooting at everything and expect to win.
From a technical view, this game uses the controls of twin-stick shooters. The left analog controls your movement while the right analog controls your aim. With the left trigger, you use your main gun and the right trigger your secondary gun. What makes this game a bit different is that every shot that we make consumes a bit of energy, and if it runs out you cannot keep shooting. You will have to stop shooting for it to refill automatically.
There is also a shield that defends you against energy based attacks but consumes energy as well. Throughout the game, you will unlock new abilities that will alter the way your main and secondary guns work. Having to keep in mind how much energy you have left, and when it’s best to attack or wait for it to refill really plays an important part in the general strategy. As you can imagine the enemies are relentless and the bosses are quite difficult, so expect to die a lot while you figure out how to beat them.
You are also able to upgrade different parts of your ship. That way, you can increase the damage and rate of fire, mobility, energy containers among others, and you will find new abilities to help out during the game. This makes the game a bit easier once you have a couple of hours in, but for true fans, there is an achievement for completing the game without any upgrades, something I know I can’t do.
In regards to level design, there are different types of scenarios to keep things fresh. From the usual corridor filled with enemies until we run into a boss, to some open scenarios in which we need to complete different puzzles to finish the level. This is quite the achievement as many games of this genre tend to become tedious due to a repetitive design.
The game uses a top-down point of view with 2D Graphics. The backgrounds are quite varied, from city maps to deserts, mountains, and forest among others. And with the exception of the forest stage, you are able to distinguish the enemy attacks from the background quite easily. In the music department, the soundtrack uses heavy metal mostly. There is heavy use of electric guitars and drums, but a couple of songs have a more progressive feel to them. It reminded me a bit to Guilty Gear‘s soundtrack, and that should be a good example of how good it is, it definitely put the pressure needed on all the combat.
Once I finish the game I will submit my review detailing the story, progress and final verdict, but for now, this is quite a well made SHMUP, but a very difficult one, so keep that in mind if you’re interested in it. A bit of grinding at the beginning of the game is advised.
defenders of ekronimpressionIn Vitro GamesShmupsShoot em ups