Saturday, September 22

Review: Velocity 2X [Nintendo Switch eShop]


When you’re releasing a shooting game on the Switch, at this point it pays to do something different. We have a wide variety of shmups that range from bullet hell to more traditional arcade-style fare with just about everything in between. However, what we’re not had to this point is a title that even attempts to mix some smart shooting with sidescrolling run and gun action to boot. That’s precisely what Velocity 2X set out to do and rather than the result being 2 lackluster implementations, or where one mode is clearly superior to the other, instead you get a well-blended combination of challenge and fun.


Working with a quick-warping mechanic, some tricky stage designs, and an ever-growing arsenal of abilities that you’ll need to apply in both phases of gameplay it’s quite remarkable how much the gameplay evolves over the course of its 50+ stages. In general the game’s pace is pretty breakneck, though not all stages have an inherent sense of urgency past the timer you’ll be rated with once you finish. Thankfully, death isn’t heavily penalized in any way, and you can expect to die quite a lot since the rate at which you’ll be expected to evolve your skills is pretty quick, especially when you steadily continue to acquire new ones with some regularity that you’ll then be expected to apply effectively after only a brief introduction.


That said, the flow of action is quite exhilarating and though you may expect for the shooting and platforming elements to be tied to specific stages very often you’re alternating between them multiple times the further in you get. The way this is done is pretty smart, as you’ll need to unlock gates in a specific order to progress in the shooting sections. After clearing one or two you won’t see another but there’ll be a way to enter the ship. You’ll then clear a run and gun segment which will unlock the missing gate, allowing you to go right back to shooting. This and a portal mechanic give the stages a mildly puzzle-like layout at times, though it’s always pretty clear what you need to do. It does, however, keep things feeling fresh as you’re constantly changing up what you’re doing.


While for the most part the parallel actions you’ll be able to perform in either mode map up pretty well the biggest challenge in the game is in transitioning so much between the two styles of play. You get to the point where you’ve got a lot of abilities in both phases to keep track of and there are times when my fingers got a bit jumbled up trying to keep track of which buttons did what when I’d quickly move between modes. This is a case of practice makes perfect, and the control setup is well-conceived, just it’s a lot to take in and you sometimes need to keep a brisk pace which doesn’t leave your brain proper time to switch gears. You get used to it, and can roll with the punches, but there can be some aggravation getting there.


On the whole there’s a lot of game here, and since both genres are well-represented it’s almost like a double bargain. The impressive thing is how well it all blends together with neither style clearly shining over the other and both genres being well-represented. The action is quick, smart, and often intense, making Velocity 2X memorable even in the wave of indies hitting the system every week. If you’re a self-respecting fan of action, it’s well worth checking out.


Score: 8.5

Pros:
  • Blends shmup with run and gun action very effectively
  • A progressively-growing challenge, with many upgrades along the way
  • Respects your skills enough to challenge you to begin combining abilities without explicitly pointing things out as you get deeper into the campaign

Cons:
  • There’s simply a lot going on control-wise and especially when transitioning between styles it can be easy to get a bit disoriented
  • As a whole the experience is no cakewalk, it will demand that you refine your skills and consistency to survive the further in you get