As my advancing years have been caught up by my slightly younger mind, my gaming habits have changed. Gone are the times when I’d happily spend hours on end battling my way through a game which tested my skills to the max, instead now preferring to kick back with a controller in hand as I look for a more relaxing, much easier, time.
Or at least I thought my gaming habits had changed, because just recently I’ve become a little addicted to a game that would, ordinarily, begin to annoy me after five minutes. A game that promises to be easy to learn, but difficult to master.
But here I am, after dropping double figure hours of precious gaming time into GRIDD: Retroenhanced, struggling to reach its conclusion. I’ve obviously learnt the ease of its gameplay, but then come a cropper with the mastering bit. But throughout my time with the game, I’ve actually, rather strangely, enjoyed what I’ve been subjected to. Yes, there have been moments of sheer frustration, and the overall difficulty of GRIDD will no doubt be too much for many to bear. But, as long as you stick with it, and are happy to attempt multiple playthroughs in the hope you can reach just that little bit deeper into the minds of the small development team at Antab Studio, you’ll no doubt come out the other end a better person for it.
GRIDD: Retroenhanced is nothing short of a super intense, rather hardcore, rail-running shoot ‘em up, delivering fast but smooth Tron-style neon visuals to your eyes, all as you attempt to go deep into the cyberpunk system, hacking and destroying everything that comes your way.
The controls are some of the simplest you will ever come across, with a press of the A button ensuring your ship fires lasers forward. Meanwhile a twirl of the left stick will see your craft twisting and dancing its way along a well created track of light, past all manner of obstacles and taking down enemies as it goes.
The mechanics work brilliantly and even in and amongst the most hectic of moments, I’ve yet to see any slowdown or issues which could in anyway affect progress. There have been occasions where I’ve lost track of my ship entirely, as the glow it emits begins to blend in with the track as it falls into place. However, at the end of the day, should you die in GRIDD, you have only one thing to blame – your skills.
Plenty of power ups are obtainable along the way to help you out. These give your ship more powerful weapons, and let you top up your precious health or equip shields for the hardest fights that come your way. Missing out on some of these – which is fairly easy to do when you take into account the pace everything comes at you – will most probably ensure each run is a bit shorter than your last and those worldwide leaderboards will appear to be well out of reach. And if you even dare to get your ship touched by the multitude of obstacles, will quickly see those power ups, and any score combo which you may have received, wiped out in a flash.
But get yourself focused, flicking your craft between the tightest of areas whilst tactically taking down multiple enemies with well placed shots and you’ll quite possibly find yourself increasing your combos, grabbing higher scores, placing further up the worldwide leaderboards and, more importantly, getting further into the system on every run.
Pushing everything along is a stunning – and I really do mean stunning – electronic synthwave soundtrack that urges you forward at every beat. Usually, once you’ve begun to drop many hours into a game such as this, the soundtrack and gameplay will begin to grate, as you are left to attempt the same sections over and over again, all with the same beats being thrust towards your ears. But that grating never really occurs with GRIDD, and you’ll struggle to find anything but enthusiasm for each and every run. Hats must therefore come off and be doffed the way of Antab for creating a game that has such a high addiction level.
Whether that is because you know you can make that next step along the long winding ribbon of light before you, or just because you’re happy to take in the brilliant sound, matters little. All that you need to know is that playability is good and replayability is high.
Yes, there will be moments when you find yourself absolutely hating what Antab have created. There have been times where I was seriously beginning to wonder if I was ever going to make it past a few specific sections throughout my GRIDD experience. And yet, the feeling you get when you do eventually skip your way through a section without taking a hit – whether that be through luck or judgement – finding yourself properly prepared for that next big enemy, is indescribable.
At the same time though, the overall difficulty of GRIDD may well mean that many are put off from giving it a try. When you take into account the fact that there is only one game mode initially available, with only an endless mode becoming unlocked dependant on your initial successes, the price tag is probably just a bit too high for any casual user to jump in spontaneously.
Many more will no doubt find themselves shaking at the thought of having to take in a game that could well be so headache-inducing as Retroenhanced. Whilst the pace and madness of things flying towards your eyes is bearable, the massive screen shake which has been obviously thrown in to bring a deeper retro/early computing vibe to proceedings is definitely something I won’t be missing. That in itself may limit your time with GRIDD to just a few attempts in a row before you need a rest prior to trying again.
And even though you will try again, that’s a bit of a shame, because the rest of the game, even when taking into account its high difficulty setting, is something rather addictive. With the lovely visuals, stunning soundtrack and ‘just one more go’ attitude it comes with, GRIDD: Retroenhanced is well worth a hit.
Even if like me, your gaming habits usually warrant something a bit easier.