Friday, January 26

Review: Tachyon Project [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Probably one of the most impressive arcade shooting series of the past decade, without a doubt, would be Geometry Wars. Mixing gorgeous minimalist aesthetics, well-defined and diverse enemies, and a high degree of difficulty it deserves its reputation. Tachyon Project, at first glance, appears to have much in common with Geometry Wars but while there are some similar concepts and elements it very much charts a path all its own.


First and foremost, Tachyon Project aims to have a story, though overall how much this enhances the experience is hard to say. For the most part sticking with some high-tech hacker tropes, with a pinch of double-crossing peppered in, you will take control of a rogue program trying to break into computer systems in search of information. Regardless of how you feel about the narrative what this does manage to do is provide structure to the proceedings, and it does give the levels and bosses a bit of a different feel. It may be my soft spot for the Disney classic TRON but I did like the idea at play here.

The other, perhaps more notable, element that stands out in the game is its difficulty. Even as a hardened twin-stick shooter fan who has made it through some serious challenges to date on the Switch several of the title’s roughly 60 total waves over 10 chapters threw me for a loop. Defeat comes swiftly and with force due to the tendency of enemy waves to collect together. This can make them easier to take out if you have enough space to get them all but it also means when you can’t keep up they hit you like a steamroller. The amount of time I spent desperately trying to evade enemies while firing back at them to whittle down their numbers is substantial. To help with this as you progress you’ll have upgrade options for your primary and secondary weapons as well as additional enhancements. Expect to spend some time exploring your options as they’re generally very well-balanced and on certain levels there are definitely optimum choices that will differ. Once you complete the primary Story Mode a Story+ Mode will open up offering a chance to start over with higher difficulty but with all of your upgrades already available to make things more fair. Of course there’s also more traditional arcade excitement in the Challenge Modes for score as well once you’ve exhausted your interest or patience in the story modes, complete with leaderboards. Also, if you enjoy chaos the game supports up to 4 players.


While there’s a lot to like in the game it isn’t without its rough edges either. The most noticeable issue is that as the number of enemies and particles on the screen increases so does the slowdown. That isn’t to say it detracts from how enjoyable things are, it’s the sheer force of volume that make the game what it is. As mentioned before the tendency of enemies to form into clusters can, at times, get a bit irritating as these groups can very easily overwhelm you at times, especially since it can be difficult to judge just how many are clustered together when the action gets intense. Finally, while I appreciate the stealth enemy types, and they truly help give the game a different kind of feel, they do make playing the game in handheld mode a bit challenging at times. In a nice dark room things tend to be fine but with any amount of glare even at maximum brightness some of the quick-moving enemies can be hard to see. Not a killer but well worth noting if you generally find yourself trying to play games on the go in bright places or outside.

Even with as many twin-stick shooters there already are on the Switch Tachyon Project manages to distinguish itself both with its story mode structure and its level of challenge. For the most part this is a great thing for shooter fans but if you tend to only dabble perhaps you may find yourself in over your head after a few levels. Throw in the many upgrade combinations you can choose to play with to refine your ship’s style to suit your preferences and it is a great addition to any shooting fans’ Switch library.


Score: 8

Pros:
  • The Story Mode gives it a structure that is refreshing
  • A multitude of upgrade options provide ample opportunity to change things up to suit your style or the situation
  • Tough-as-nails gameplay will force you to work for your victories

Cons:
  • Even with the various mode types they all ultimately play out roughly the same… shoot while evading and try to stay alive
  • Things do begin to slow down as the action intensifies
  • The degree of difficulty in some levels may be too much for all but the most hardcore shooting fans


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