Inspired by the shmups of old, com8com1 Software takes the best elements of Gradius and R-Type for their new title Rigid Force Alpha. A number of trailblazing mechanics in the genre are in play with this release, but is this title more than the sum of its parts?
Rigid Force Alpha Review
As one would expect, players will take control of the titular Rigid Force Alpha ship as they fight on behalf of the United Planet Freedom Forces to take down mechanoids and mutated, bioengineered lifeforms. It’s a pretty generic tale, and the only plot the game has to offer is delivered by the AI Psye. However, your typical shoot-em-up is not known for its riveting tale, so its bland sci-fi trappings can easily be ignored.
Rather, it is the gameplay that takes center focus. A horizontal shmup through and through, players will navigate through icy caverns, remote outposts, desert mining sites, and more. The six stages require careful navigation, as certain areas require precise timing and calm nerves. Dynamic elements, like a ship that pursues the player from behind, help to spice things up and make each level stand out.
These elements certainly adds some tension, but the game has a nasty habit of automatically changing the speed of each stage in certain areas. A steady pace is fine, but one that speeds up and slows down requires rote memorization, rather than sharp reflexes.
There are a number of enemies that must be taken down along the way, and a number of ways to achieve this goal. Players are given a standard pea-shooter blaster that can be upgraded with a number of weapon capsule power-ups. With these power ups, players can adjust their rate of fire into one of four different directions, which works especially well for those looking to change up their strategy. Energy orbs can also be collected from fallen foes, which helps to fill a meter. This meter can be used for a concentrated rate of fire, or to utilize an energy sword that can deflect bullets.
However, players must learn to get good at the game real fast, as death means losing it all. The Easy and Normal difficulty settings allow for some margin for error (with three hits and two hits allowed, respectively), but losing a ship means starting from square one in regards to your weaponry. Those on Easy can quickly gather back what they lost, but those on Normal or Hard will be stuck with the default blaster. This doesn’t work as it should – though Gradius used a similar strategy, your basic shot barely does any damage. When facing throngs of enemies, the odds are often stacked against the player. Some may deride it, but we highly recommend playing on Easy – even seasoned vets will find some challenge there.
Rigid Force Alpha features your standard suite of modes. Playing the “Main Mission” mode unlocks both “Arcade Mode” (with multipliers, bombs to destroy, and people to rescue) and “Boss Rush.” Leaderboards are also available. The core game won’t take players too long – around an hour and a half if you’re decent – but the length is par for the genre.
Rigid Force Alpha doesn’t commit any cardinal shmup sins, but it doesn’t stand out either. Those looking for the next Gradius or R-Type will find comfort in its familiarity, but the whole experience does not leave a lasting impression.
This review of Rigid Force Alpha was done on PC. A digital code was provided by the publisher.
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