By Fabrice Stellaire / November 20th, 2017
|Release Date||September 19th, 2017|
Games with a retro vibe have a decent fanbase, but not all of them are enjoyable and worthy of our time. Project Mercury pays tribute to old action games from the 80s, with a story about an invasion from mysterious beings called Mercury. Can we face this challenge and emerge victorious?
Four commandos have been sent to investigate the situation and have gone missing. Our mission is to rescue them while facing waves of dangerous aliens. Fortunately, our anonymous pink commando is not unarmed and can use a laser gun to destroy them. Getting used to controlling your character and aiming properly is not an easy task and it will require you to die several times before getting used to the gameplay. Aliens can move quickly and it is often very hard to destroy them before they leave the screen. In that respect, the game reproduces the difficulty of old games from the 80s, and you may sometimes have the feeling that the difficulty is unfair. On the other hand, each level includes a checkpoint which will let you retain a part of your progress if you die in the middle of the level. Beating some bosses will allow you to unlock permanent weapon upgrades, such as the spray beam, the laser, or additional ammo.
While your main weapon has unlimited ammo, secondary weapons have a limited use and you may want to save them for hard sequences like boss fights. I enjoyed using those weapons, but I wish there had been more of them. I was hoping to get a rocket launcher or a charge beam for example. Bosses are generally giant bugs which remind me of old sci-fi movies or games like Contra. Their patterns can be predicted and you should be able to crush them without too much frustration. They are sometimes helped by smaller ships or minions, or have a secret ace card, like being able to split once destroyed. Boss fights are in this way typical of what you could find in old shoot ’em ups. Some levels have you riding a hoverbike or climbing skyscrapers, which reduces the feeling of repetition inherent to the genre. The art of the game, combined with its music typical of old games, manages to reproduce the feeling of playing an old microcomputer game. Even after playing for a while the music is not boring. I think the art and the music pay tribute to a time where electronics and computers were so magical that they were introduced in every movie or documentary. Electronic music from the 80s showed it was possible to create interesting music with limited resources, and the music of the game is really something you could have experienced in an old game. I think that the art is also a tribute to that time—the hoverbike for example was a common vehicle in sci-fi movies, cartoons, or anime like Cobra. The use of bugs might be a reference to old vintage sci-fi movies like Them!, The Deadly Mantis, Black Scorpion, or Tarantula.
The main flaw of the game might be its relatively short lifespan, as I was able to beat its eight levels after five hours. While some sequences can be difficult at first and frustrating, with time, it is possible to overcome them. It often happens that a very difficult sequence is followed by an easier boss fight, which may not please some hardcore fans but will be a relief for more casual players. The game is sold at the price of $4.99, so for that price, the game provides a good and entertaining experience. The game is short but solid, despite feeling unbalanced at times. It will deliver a few hours of fun to any player willing to travel back to the 80s.
Review copy provided by the developer.
Project MercuryRaxasoft GamesSteam