By Justin Guillou / March 6th, 2018
|Release Date||February 8, 2018|
|Genre||Twin-stick Shoot em up|
|Platform||PC, Wii U, Switch|
It’s great that the indie scene really seems to enjoy the shoot-em-up genre. I feel like every few weeks a cool new shooter is released and for the most part, they are pretty good. Aperion Cyberstorm is among the newer ones to be released, so naturally, I had some very high hopes for this one. It has kind of a retro look going on with its heavy use of neon lights and the ships and enemy designs look like they came out of an old 80s arcade shooter. Also this game seems to be sporting a nice little techno drum & bass style soundtrack. So far so good.
Aperion Cyberstorm has several modes for you to play such as Campaign, Versus and Onslaught. Even better, each of these modes supports co-op for up to five players! The campaign mode is the main single player component to Aperion Cyberstorm and unfortunately, it isn’t quite as great as I would have hoped. You play as a pilot Katie who, along with her comrades, tried to escape the destruction of her home planet. However, her friends abandoned her. She is now out looking for them to discover the truth behind why they betrayed her. Campaign mode has you traveling through multiple planets and each one has you travel to several areas that are comprised of a series of rooms and chambers. The big problem with the campaign mode is that it is designed to look like an adventure game with a map that seems to remind you of a Metroidvania, however the game’s exploration elements are surprisingly shallow. You go into a room, the gate closes behind you and you either fly over to the next room, fight enemies, or spend some time shooting crystals which serve as this game’s currency.
That sounds alright, however when you are fighting enemies, the encounters are way too long for their own good. This is due to the fact that enemies have a lot of health or shields and also because far too many of them spawn in each of these encounters. Each encounter almost feels like a survival mode with how long they are. It’s even more frustrating when one of these long encounters gets followed up with another long encounter as soon as you reach the next room.
Eventually you will find a save room which will indicate the end of that particular level. Repeat this process about 5-6 times and eventually you will reach a boss battle. I can’t help but feel like they should have reduced the amount of enemies that appear. It would have done wonders for this game’s pacing. The boss battles were a bit more interesting as they often throw a lot of enemies and projectiles at you, though funny enough, I found myself getting through them a lot faster than some of the normal battles.
Being a twin stick shooter the controls are very simple; use the left stick to move your ship and the right stick to aim and shoot. The mouse and keyboard are also supported as well. Using the bumpers will make your ship dash. When you dash you are temporarily invincible and can damage enemies, however the invincibility frames are very quick so be careful not to use it and get yourself in a worse situation. The triggers will activate your ship’s special skills. These are usually enhanced firepower such as spread shots, shields, mines, or later on a laser. You can only use these abilities for a limited time and afterwards you will revert back to your regular shots. There is a cool down for each of these abilities which is listed in the ability upgrade screen but sadly you don’t really see any visual indication of this during gameplay.
After each battle in the campaign mode you gain experience, which can be used to level up your special abilities. Leveling them up usually increases their duration and decreases their cooldown. It would have been nice to be able to buff your actual damage output with your experience too since that could have made some of the aforementioned long battles a bit faster. You also can gain some elemental abilities such as ice, poison and thunder. There are a few collectible items hidden in the planets such as secret ships or special items to unlock maps in the multiplayer modes.
Despite this, the campaign mode still feels a bit lacking. The areas are not particularly interesting in their design. There are a couple areas that offer some interesting obstacles like ice that makes it harder to maneuver your ship or lava that can slowly deplete your shields. Unfortunately these obstacles come off as more of an annoyance than an actual challenge for your to overcome. While there are a decent amount of battle themes, they tend to repeat themselves very frequently due to how many fights you will have before the next save room. This all adds up to a campaign that is surprisingly lengthy at around 4-5 hours. It doesn’t sound like a long story mode but for a shooter as simplistic as this one it feels like it chore to get through.
If you do enjoy it, you can go back to each of the areas and increase your rank. Aperion Cyberstorm does feature a scoring system. Each time you destroy an enemy your multiplier increases as long as you don’t take damage yourself. Keep the chain going and you can really rack up a high score and secure a high rank. In addition to this, not getting hit in a battle will yield extra experience to help you unlock those abilities a bit faster.
The Versus and Onslaught modes work a lot better given this game’s mechanics and rules so it’s no surprise that those modes end up being much more enjoyable. The Versus mode allows you to customize the rules and add certain objectives such as shooting each other down, being the first to destroy a particular target or trying to take over a significant amount of the map. The Onslaught mode is more like a survival mode and this mode can get intense. The action is fast paced and unrelenting, so you and your teammates will have to work together as your skills are put to the test. There are also a lot of options for these modes, including health and the ability to use the ships you unlocked in the campaign mode with the upgrades you got. Unfortunately as of right now, Aperion Cyberstorm only supports local multiplayer. This is a shame especially for the PC version as it’s not always easy to get a five-player setup going for that.
For $14.99 Aperion Cyberstorm is a difficult game to recommend for PC players. I’m sure the lack of online and overall subpar campaign mode will definitely limit this game’s appeal for most players. However I can see this game being very good for something like the Nintendo Switch considering the Joy-Con can double as controllers. If you can manage to get some people over for multiplayer, Aperion Cyberstorm can be a good time. Otherwise you might want to look elsewhere.
Review copy provided by publisher
Aperion CyberstormmultiplayerPCShmupshooting gameSteamTwin stick shooterWii U