RiftStar Raiders Review
So you require me to relate my recent reactions to Riftstar Raiders, right? Is it a rapturous ride with almost religious repurcussions or a reticent ramble reminiscent of the ridiculous? Regardless, reviewing is my raison d’etre, so relax as I regale you with my recited recollections.
RiftStar Raiders is a twin-stick shooter (we’re done with the strained alliterations now, by the way), from Climax Studios that combines standard “bullet hell” gameplay with actual loot, allowing you and your friends to modify and upgrade your ships or construct brand new ones. Gameplay follows a very standard template as you navigate your ship through top-down stages, blasting away at everything and anything that comes within range, while surviving traps, mines, huge turrets and some pretty interesting boss fights.
Scavenging for loot is at the heart of RiftStar, as you venture out into the space around the space pirate haven of Arcadia to battle against the “Warswarm” with up to three other players – or alone, if you’re feeling brave. Controls are also standardised, with the left stick used for movement and the right for aiming your guns – but you’ll need a clever combination of both if you want to safely navigate some of the tighter areas and emerge intact.
It’s not the smoothest ride initially and took me a little while to feel completely comfortable with the way it moves. The starting ship is a bit sluggish, and the weaksauce weapons take a few shots to destroy even the most basic of enemies, but once you get the hang of the turning circles and firing speed it begins to feel incredibly satisfying, not least of all when you attach your tractor beam to a loot box and tear it open. Inside you’ll find money, shield and health boosts or upgrades to apply to your vessel.
The effects are quite dazzling, as your little craft leaves a trail of blue light behind it and the shield throbs with energy. The backdrops don’t need to be highly detailed when the colours pop and fizz with such energy as you spin and dodge and obliterate your enemies. The left bumper grants you a tiny boost that leaps you forward when pressed alone or lets you barrel roll out of danger if pressed along with the right stick.
Missions, of which there are nine, are fairly linear, although different ship mods and weapon combinations do allow for an occasional mix of tactics. Often charging in guns blazing is the fastest route to a Game Over screen, and you’re better off picking away at enemies and moving careful around the battlespace. Power-ups and curatives are fairly plentiful, but don’t last long so you need to hoover them up fast – which is no mean feat in the middle of a firefight.
Between missions you can use the bits and bobs you’ve gathered to modify your ship with a suite of alterations including new weapons, stronger shields and cool aesthetics. You might eventually find one to stick with, but experimentation is rewarded.
Although it’s best enjoyed with friends, the screen gets incredibly busy with more players and it can be difficult to see each exactly what’s going on. The frustration is off-set by the fun, thankfully – and it’s certainly easier to survive with a couple of wingmen.
RiftStar Raiders is solid fun, elevated above being just another twin stick shooter by the inclusion of loot and customisation. It won’t last all that long and, aside the various mods and weapons, replay value isn’t particularly high unless you get a kick from blasting and dodging – but I’d like to report that the result of this review is a reinforced recommendation to give RiftStar Raiders a run.
Lots of loot
Fun with friends
Not overly long
Odd difficulty spikes
Not very original