There is no shortage of indie shovelware on the Xbox storefront, so standing out from the pack is essential in order to gain attention and be relevant among the avid community of gamers. Delta Squad is an arcade-like isometric military twin-stick blaster (save for when you roll dodge and use grenades with the face and trigger buttons) where you play as a service grunt who is tasked by government agents to eliminate a problematic zombie threat and tussle with machines twice his size, because shorty syndrome ain’t funny y’all. If you’re desperately in a pinch for a forgettable spray-shooter, Delta Squad could scratch an itch, but it’s too often a reminder of better indie titles with more interesting ideas than what’s on display here.
You can’t go into Delta Squad without knowing what you’re up against – shambling stinking zombies that wait around to be shot dead, armoured personnel who show up with heavy weaponry and act like lackadaisical bozos, and big ol’ gun turrets and tanks – because the need to dwindle a health bar by constantly firing bullets at metal is an insatiable pastime.
There are four standardised personnel classes in place, including Medic, Engineer, Heavy and Infantry, each with a few distinctive traits to differentiate them. For instance, the Heavy hoists a huge minigun about and can easily wreck shop on adversarial forces – he can take a good kicking and keep on ticking, making him a character advisable for solo-runners. The Medic can carry more first aid kits and will come in handy when you’re taking excessive damage, a nice perk given that the game is quite unforgiving lest you play with others. Engineers are good at tinkering with equipment and therefore will prove useful at fixing your intolerance for pain. Then you’ve got the bog-standard Infantry class that’s nothing particularly special, but can get the job done convincingly nevertheless.
It’s all functional and workable stuff much like a panini press, only this time the reward and the end result isn’t really worth the time and effort spent. The main problem is it’s as shallow and tedious as it is operational. We’ve seen zombies in video games a million times; we’ve sprayed bullets in countless arcade classics. It’s only telling that the environments are bland and mostly featureless, and the sounds of gunfire are dreadfully archaic, which showcases the lack of passion in this product.
Keep in mind that a cat has nine lives but you have only three, so when you’re out on the battlefield it’s important to be weary of your tactics as you advance, no matter how wafer-thin they may be. When you’ve depleted your first lot of health you will respawn right on the spot, meaning there’s no need to retrace your steps, however if you use up all three lives you will be booted back to the beginning of the level, which will likely irritate and frustrate due to how rote and unexciting the action is.
Speaking of rote and unexciting, the mission objectives are nothing short of dull chores. Missions like kill X amount of zombies, diffuse bombs, destroy enemy property, destroy enemy coms and collect futile gold coins only serve to remind you you’re playing a video game – all in an eye-wateringly rinse and repeat formula. Delta Squad does boast 50 missions over 5 levels, but those missions consist of the same kinds of actions over and over and over again, and thus get very stale, very quickly.
Soiling Delta Squad’s already tepid offering is a peculiar bug encountered during the boss battle of the Miniland stage. See, if you die, you’ll be sent back to the beginning of the laboratory section and when you meet him again he’ll be completely invisible, effectively breaking the mission. Were it not for the ability to pick and choose levels to play, this would be disastrous. It’s a glaring flaw you should take heed of.
Survival mode is a welcome change to the forgettable campaign because it offers the most satisfying thrills. Your job is basically to survive increasingly fierce waves of enemies as they attempt to swarm and overwhelm you. Outmanoeuvring your adversaries is twitchy and quick, making for a modicum feeling of satisfaction. Although, there should be much greater variation in enemy types and it shouldn’t feel like you’re going through the familiar motions of avoiding fire, before firing back until everyone besides you is a bloody pile on the ground.
The only saving graces you can look out for in Delta Squad are the 12 super-easy achievements and the fact it works like you’d expect it to, meaning that it isn’t broken and can produce a mostly serviceable experience.
Delta Squad on Xbox One is okay for the price, but don’t expect more bang for your buck. You get a campaign, a survival mode and generally a time-waster that can be forgotten about in a day, mainly because you’ll be overwhelmingly bored of the tedium stemming from the procedural mission objectives, repetitive and toothless bullet-flying action, and cheap deaths.