Coming from Dynamic Voltage Games is a curious mash up of game styles – Final Star. Playing out as a horizontally scrolling shooter with RPG elements, it would appear to be a fairly unique proposition. But can the actual game live up to the potential, or will it be ultimately disappointing?
The story of Final Star revolves, surprisingly enough, around the last star left in the Universe. As more and more races arrived at this star they lived in peace and shared its light, forming the Final Star Armada, in order to keep the star safe. However, the day that many feared finally arrived, and a hostile alien race appeared and attacked. The Armada was swept aside and all that remains is you, a lone pilot against an entire fleet. Only by allying yourself with a group of dangerous and untrustworthy mercenaries can you get the upgrades to your ship that will allow you to triumph.
As Final Star launches, you are alone in your ship, until you are contacted by the remnants of the Armada’s command. They ask that you take a variety of missions to help clear out the alien menace. Completing these see you gain scrap and gold, which allows you to buy upgrades for your ship; these range from extra health up to bombs and missile attacks that help to keep you alive that little bit longer. They can really make the difference between success and failure.
The mission layout is non-linear, and you can choose to tackle things in any order. Each mission has a difficulty rating, but it doesn’t seem to relate to your current level, as you can end up playing a mission that you are woefully under-equipped for. In order to get the rewards of scrap and gold, the mission has to be completed, dying will result in no rewards. As the missions stack up then, there is a certain amount of experimentation required to figure out which to partake in, in order to power up and then complete more. There is a little bit of grinding possible as some can be replayed with the slight kicker that each time a mission is cleared, it’s then harder the next time you play it.
A nice little side game where you can craft mods for the ships is included as well. Geocrosis is basically a Tetris style game where you have to place gems together to create groups, and as you build enough of the groups you increase the level of the game. The higher you get, the better the mod that is created, and this is another fun diversion.
The gameplay found across the missions is pretty much as you’d expect if you’ve ever played a shoot-em-up before. There are a couple of satellite weapons you have attached to your ship that can be rearranged on the fly, giving a wider spread of weaker shots but faster movement around the screen, or concentrated fire that makes the ship move more slowly. As you may expect, this sees the game degenerate into a bullet hell shooter very quickly; moving and dodging is incredibly vital. However hard it gets though, there is always a glimmer of hope, as your ship is fitted with an “anti bullet” weapon. A quick press of LT will allow you to fire a laser that destroys any bullets in front of the ship, and this has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. It only has a certain number of shots, related to the energy rating of your ship, so again the upgrades you choose can affect the way that the game plays out.
Final Star also features local co-op which also works very well, with others able to pick up a controller and dive in at any time to help out. At times, you’ll need as much help as you can get too.
Graphically all of this comes across with an attractive style, with seemingly hundreds of small ships and bullets flying and whizzing about the place with no trace of slowdown. The backgrounds of the different planets are very well realised, and the screen filling end of stage bosses are all present and correct. The sound is pretty much as you’d expect, all swooshing lasers and thumping music tracks which fit perfectly with the gameplay. As a default the music is incredibly loud, but that may be down to my advanced years and is easily adjusted.
All in all though and you’ll find that Final Star on Xbox One offers enough to differentiate itself from the crowd of other shooters. Choosing the path of which missions to undertake and which mods to buy can have a real effect on how hard the game is, and it is this freedom of choice that is good to see. Even though the gameplay isn’t massively varied across any of the missions, the same can be said of any shooter really, and there’s enough variety here to keep you playing for a good amount of time.