So once again, you’re that lone savior who has to defend the galaxy from a horde of enemies determined to rain on your parade. That’s fine, you weren’t really busy, were you?
Thankfully, your ship has more than enough firepower to handle those pains and send them packing. In the beginning, you’re equipped with a basic shot that does decent damage. Along the way you can pick up several types of armaments; A spread shot, a laser, and a bounce shot. All have their pros and cons, depending on the situation.
You also pick up missiles that home in on the enemy. But my favorite is the shards (I call them funnels) that not only provide you with some extra firepower, they also can be repositioned around your ship. At any time they can be moved to cover the rear or front of your ship, and they can also be used to inflict physical damage to the enemies. They’re extremely handy to have around. You also have access to an ability that affords you with a second of invincibility, at a cost of some meter.
Speaking of the meter, let’s talk about that. Whenever you destroy an enemy, they drop these green glowing orbs. You can pick them up by either running them over or using the gathering ability to pull them in. Once collected, they provide you with a chunk of meter. This is used for providing the momentary invincibility I spoke about before, and a massive energy beam that blows everything in front of you away. The downside to the later is that it uses a lot of your collected meter. So you have to decide to use the meter gained either defensively or offensively. Honestly, I doubt most people will using the invincibility option as the usage window is so small. I’d rather it formed a shield around the ship, instead of having to implore it manually.
Unlike similar games, Rigid Force Alpha doesn’t just toss you into the deep end of the pool. Instead, the game offers a difficulty selection and allows you to get a feel for the game. Of course, once you’re ready to go with no hand-holding, good luck. To that respect, I didn’t find that the hard difficulty was really that hard. In fact, after some testing, the only thing that really changed was the amount of damage you can take and how hard the enemies hurt you. In easy mode, you can take three hits before you explode, two in normal, but just one in hard mode.
It’s worth noting that dying in this game, is a huge setback When you get exploded, you don’t just lose a ship. You also lose all of your power-ups and there’s no re-collecting them all when you play on any difficulty other than easy. They’re just gone. And that can cause a bit of issue, to the point where restarting all over is the better option.
There are several modes for you to enjoy; Mission, Arcade, and Boss Rush. The mission mode tosses in a story, which I found quite boring and didn’t really hold my attention. Thankfully you can skip past it all. The Arcade mode changes things up as it not only has you blasting all that get in your way. You’re also tasked with saving stranded pilots and picking up items, all while trying to rack up your score by performing combos.
It’s definitely my preferred mode, as I’m constantly trying to one-up my previous score. That last mode, which also requires you to beat the game is a boss rush mode. As the name applies, you’ll square off against one boss after another. It’s a nice addition as well, but once you’ve beaten them once, the boss rush mode doesn’t really have any enticement to go after them again. That is unless you’re trying to go for that no-hit kill. There’s also an online leaderboard, so you can see where you rank compared to the rest of the world.
Graphically the game looks great. The models are sharp, the backdrops look impressive, many of which are animated. There were times where I felt there was too much going. Of which some of the enemy shots blended in and connected against my ship. The audio, however, is a mixed bag. The score is slick and fits the game well. The sound effects, on the other hand, aren’t as varied. Explosions, no matter what it is, sounds the same. While that seems trivial, I’d imagine a larger enemy should sound a bit louder, compared to a small enemy ship being blown up.
I did have some issues with the game when it was first released. Mainly because you couldn’t use the d-pad and were forced to use the analog stick. Which wasn’t really an issue, with the exception that you couldn’t adjust the dead zone because the option wasn’t there. That caused some issues when trying to avoid being shot down. I also really missed being able to use the D-pad. Thankfully, a new update was released that not only introduced both a dead zone adjustment and the ability to use the D-pad. With the recent update, the controls a more refined and I’m happy to report that it did wonders for outrunning the enemy fire.
The downside to all this is that the game is pretty short. In fact, most will able to blast through it all in a few hours. Despite having the additional modes to extend the longevity unless you’re going for a spot on the leaderboards, you won’t be playing this game very long. While the game is priced aggressively, the game’s shortness may cause some to consider the price.
Despite the shortcomings, I highly recommend Rigid Force Alpha if you love the genre. It just screams fun, which is all I ask for in a game like this. Plenty of power-ups, the stages are enjoyable, decent music, lots of enemies to wipe out, and the boss encounters are enjoyable. You can’t ask for more than that. A love letter to an ailing genre that refuses to die and I’m good with that.
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Game title: Rigid Force Alpha
In the end, Rigid Force Alpha is a fun SHMUP. Sure, it doesn’t reinvent the genre, but it nails the basics, provides a hell of a time and that’s all any SHMUP can do. For being the first attempt from Com8com1, it shows that they’ve really listened to the SHMUP community and provided easily one of the best indie games I’ve played in a while.