HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewLASERPITIUM Review

LASERPITIUM Review

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Laserpitium is a genus of perennial plant. There you go: who says you don’t learn anything from reading games journalism. It certainly has nothing to do with the shoot ’em up on offer here. It’s got ‘laser’ and ‘pit’ in the title, so clearly someone rubbed their hands and said “that’ll do”.

We don’t want to trivialise what LASERPITIUM can do – it’s too good for that – but it’s the latest in a long line of very competent, slightly charmless shooters that arrive out on the Xbox in droves. We are blessed with them, and anyone who has fond memories of an R-Type, Parodius or Xenon will find that the big black box suits their needs. LASERPITIUM is in good company, but there is a lot of that company, so it has a slight struggle standing out.

laserpitium review 1
LASERPITIUM doesn’t always look great

As is fashionable, the big-bad in LASERPITIUM is an AI. You are a rebel, looking to bring down a construct called EVA who was originally created to muffle any social unrest, but ended up shooting it with lasers instead. That means hopping into your spaceship and sending volleys of missiles at various robotic looking things.

There’s something simultaneously pretty and ugly about the art in LASERPITIUM. The spaceships make us shrug just looking at them, being bland old space junk, but they are detailed and framed in thick, black outlines like they were ported into a comic book. The bosses are the shoot ’em up cliches of taking an animal, scaling it up and then encasing it in robot armour. But, again, the execution is pretty good. So, we find it hard to say whether the art’s objectively good or bad. You’ll have to have a look and make your own mind up.

A note to the music which makes us want to whip out the chef’s kiss emoji. We were watching the latest John Wick just before playing LASERPITIUM, and we could definitely imagine swapping the tunes between them.

Don’t let its confusingly deep menus confuse you: LASERPITIUM is a simple old shooter. It’s ten levels, played in order or slightly shuffled (your choice), with a boss at the end of each level. Even the shooting is a median of every similar game: you kill ships that carry power ups, and those power ups accumulate on a power bar, taking you over thresholds where you gain better and better guns. In that sense, LASERPITIUM trundles along in the middle of the road.

laserpitium review 2
At times it all comes alive

But it struts down the middle of that road. It owns it. Because while it’s a bit cheddar, it’s a really good cheddar. 

Take the ships. You get your choice of three and they feel completely different to play. We loved the PROTO.26, which felt like playing with giant stabilisers on. Hold A and it will send an arcing Van Der Graaf-like bolt at the nearest enemy. You don’t need to aim, you just need to be close. Enemies could barely get near us.

Then there are the levels, which often become multi-directional. The parallax scrolling is pushed to the limit as you surge into and out of spaces, choosing whether to risk grabbing a power-up before the cave crushes us against the sides of the screen. We didn’t expect this degree of playfulness to come from a budget shooter.

And while the bosses are Plain Janes who feel faintly familiar, they have the simple joy of hiding giant, flashing weak points and doing everything in their power to hide them. So, you dodge the bullet hell and tuck some missiles in. There’s a reason that games have stuck to this formula. 

For something that feels this polished, it has some weak spots of its own. LASERPITIUM loves surprising you by tossing waves of ships from the top, back and bottom of the screen. You have a backwards fire on a couple of the ships, so this isn’t necessarily a problem. But what is a problem is that there’s no visual telegraphing for them. A shocking proportion of our deaths were because we happened to be on the sides of the screen when an enemy ram-raided us. It may be a big field-of-play, but you should probably stick to the inner parts of it, which is limiting.

laserpitium review 3
Just shoot in LASERPITIUM

Luckily there are some crutches to help you deal with it. There are more difficulty settings than you can shake a stick at (although, confusingly, some are gated behind full completion of the game, which seems back to front), and you can play LASERPITIUM in two-player co-op. Nothing makes a game easier than a partner spending all your lives.

You will need them, as the final two levels represent a difficulty spike. Every time, we jealously guarded our lives, only for the Helos and Eva levels to snaffle them away from us. It’s moderately annoying to spend an hour beating eight levels with ease, only to get whacked in the face by a 2×4. But we’re getting better.

LASERPITIUM must be a marketer’s nightmare. It looks bland and has nothing fancy to shout about. You could be brutal and call it generic. But it’s so ruthlessly efficient at what it does. Writing it off would be a premature act. In its complex levels and juiced-up weaponry, there’s more than enough to keep a shoot ’em up fan quiet.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Diverse and bombastic weapons
  • Cheekily complex levels
  • Co-op and lots of difficulty options
Cons:
  • Looks painfully generic
  • Enemies and bosses *are* generic
  • Could have done with better telegraphing
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Eastasiasoft
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Release date and price - 31 May 2023 | £12.49
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Diverse and bombastic weapons</li> <li>Cheekily complex levels</li> <li>Co-op and lots of difficulty options</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Looks painfully generic</li> <li>Enemies and bosses *are* generic</li> <li>Could have done with better telegraphing</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Eastasiasoft</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch <li>Release date and price - 31 May 2023 | £12.49</li> </ul>LASERPITIUM Review
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