HomeReviews2.5/5 ReviewShootvaders The Beginning Review

Shootvaders The Beginning Review

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As a surprise to no one, Shootvaders The Beginning is a fan of Space Invaders. If you didn’t get that from the title, then the screenshots will have made it clear. This is Space Invaders with a graphical glow up, and – we should add – an odd fascination with tunnels. 

Shootvaders The Beginning is about as story-driven as Space Invaders. Yet, we’re in love with what little is here. You’re sent from the Space Mission Centre to find a planet for humanity to settle on. But, as the opening title scrawl says, “unfortunately, the universe is full of alien spaceships that prevent you from your mission”. The rascals! We would have been able to create Earth 2, if it wasn’t for that pesky universe full of alien spaceships!

shootvaders the beginning review 1
There’s not much story going on in Shootvaders

Not that we would critique a shooter for its story. The proof is in the gameplay pudding. In Shootvaders The Beginning, things are familiar: you play a single ship on the bottom of the screen. You’re not as limited as the spaceship in Space Invaders, however: you can move anywhere on the game screen, so there’s no shuffling from side to side like a digitised crab.

Much like Space Invaders, however, the enemies arrive on screen all at once, representing a singular wave for you to defeat. You weave between their bullets as you pew-pew your way through their ranks. In a slight deviation, the enemies don’t move constantly: they reorganise on occasion, and when they see you staying still for too long, they swoop down in a kind of suicide run. 

Shootvaders The Beginning absolutely loves a power-up, so that’s another deviation. In a neat touch, the power-ups often flip, like a tumbling coin. It might have health on one side, and an alien weapon on the other, and the side that is upmost is the one you receive. Timing the power-up is key. And surrounding the power-ups are stars and resources, which will be inordinately helpful when you start the next run. 

Kill all the enemies in a wave and another appears and so on. There is an ending, but mostly you are looking to progress further than you ever have before. The further you get, the more resources you gather, and the more upgrades you can buy for the next run. It’s textbook roguelike shenanigans. 

shootvaders the beginning review 2
This one is all about wave destroying

Shootvaders The Beginning then does something rather odd. Every few waves, a ‘Narrowed Alley’ appears. The enemies disappear, leaving you to pass through a sphincter and into the insides of some kind of giant metallic structure. You’re not shooting anything, but are instead trying to maneuver through a series of chicanes without hitting a wall. If you do, you lose one of your three lives. Turrets whittle away at your health as you fly. 

The Narrowed Alleys are unwanted tosh, frankly. Just as you’re getting into the flow of defeating enemies, a trench run appears, shattering the flow completely. Because they’re long and boring, devoid of the best parts of a shooter, i.e. the shooting, and prone to rob you of a life if you aren’t paying attention. They’re that terrible mix of easy and dull, as you zone out and make stupid mistakes. Every time one turned up, I wanted to stick on the autopilot and get a coffee (which you can’t do, unfortunately). 

Luckily the shooting does what you’d hope. Controlling your little ship is as fluid as you would expect from the genre, and it’s abundantly clear what is enemy bullet, what is your bullet, and what is power-up. The power-ups feel great, too: it’s a bit of a roll of the dice since they don’t tell you what’s in them, but you can normally guarantee that you will get something that feels bombastic. There are guns that pump out smart-bomb-like devices, and others that crash against the enemies in waves. 

shootvaders the beginning review 3
Tunnel runs are no fun

There are nips and tucks we’d make to the weapons: we’re not sure why so many of them fire sideways or even backwards when you’re fighting things that are uniformly ‘up’, and there’s a bizarre delay before you start using them which also seems to deactivate your basic weapons. It feels like a momentary weak spot that enemies will take advantage of. And there are definitely weapons that are not as powerful as your basic arsenal (particularly if that arsenal has been upgraded between runs), so you can find yourself punished for picking up a boost, which is not what nature intended. 

But even with all that, Shootvaders The Beginning feels good. The issue is that it can’t sustain it. You can tell the game-structure it wanted to adopt: waves get increasingly difficult, but you return with enough resources to push further and further into those waves. Somehow, it doesn’t work out like that. 

On a good run, I will get 600 stars and maybe 300 crafting resources for the human and alien weapon attachments to my ship. But the first tier of unlocks, bought by stars, costs 1000 stars, and the first round of weapons costs 1000 resources. So, play a good run of Shootvaders The Beginning, and you will only get partway to the first tier. But the first tier is exactly that: the first tier. For the second and third tiers, you need many thousands to get the next unlocks, and more beyond that. You receive a drip-feed, nowhere near enough to feel the roguelike crack coursing through your body. 

Runs are pretty long, probably ten to fifteen minutes, so hopping back in, only to unlock one-tenth of the next upgrade doesn’t feel particularly good. Perhaps shoot ’em-up gurus will get more resources per run and it will feel better for them. But for us, it was a snail-crawl. 

shootvaders the beginning review 4
It’s all about those stars

Runs aren’t varied. It’s the same thing every time. The waves aren’t particularly different from each other, either, and then you have to factor in those damned Narrowed Alleys. You will be doing at least three of them per run. It means that, once we returned to the upgrade menu and realised that we were yonks from the next smart bomb improvement, we contemplated the next run and found ourselves questioning it. Is it worth it? We honestly weren’t sure. 

Shootvaders The Beginning takes one too many leafs out of Space Invaders’ book. It makes each level near identical to the last, just with more incessant bullets coming your way. With a greater number of ship types, different level layouts and less of the sodding Narrowed Alleys, we’d have felt the tug of one-more-run. Instead, we felt the tug of getting back to Starfield.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Backgrounds look lovely
  • Basic controls are superb
  • Power-ups are uniformly ridiculous
Cons:
  • The grind is far too real
  • Narrowed Alley segments felt unwanted
  • Not enough variety in levels or enemies
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TotalConsole
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review), PC
  • Release date and price - 28 June 2023 | £5.79
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Backgrounds look lovely</li> <li>Basic controls are superb</li> <li>Power-ups are uniformly ridiculous</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>The grind is far too real</li> <li>Narrowed Alley segments felt unwanted</li> <li>Not enough variety in levels or enemies</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TotalConsole</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review), PC <li>Release date and price - 28 June 2023 | £5.79</li> </ul>Shootvaders The Beginning Review
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