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20160424

Review: PARANAUTICAL ACTIVITY (Wii U eShop)

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PARANAUTICAL ACTIVITY

Published by Digerati Distribution & Marketing
Original Game by Code Avarice
Wii U Version by Saturnine Games

Genre: Roguelike FPS
Players: 1

EU Release Date: 2016-04-21 / Price: 9,99€
NA Release Date: 2016-04-14 / Price: $9.99

Website / Trailer

Tested: EU (PAL Version)


Test your skills, precision, and reflexes in this roguelike FPS for Wii U. Paranautical Activity goes straight to the essence, skipping background story and character descriptions for 100% gameplay.

So that's what we'll be doing as well. Greeted by a title screen showing a picture of creepy looking monsters made of big 3D pixels (voxel style) and a high octane dubstep track, we move right into the main menu by pressing the START button. There we have just the "classic" mode at first ("hardcore" and "infinite" modes need to be unlocked), and two other options: "unlocks" shows the 45 main goals of the game and which one's you have achieved. Beating those missions unlock new items, weapons, characters, enemies, and modes. There's quite a lot to do. The "options" on the other hand are lacking somewhat. You can turn the music, sound, screen shake effect, and invert Y option on and off, and move the stick sensitivity slider and field of vision slider around which is pretty neat. However, the music and sound option needed a slider as well, as the music is too loud for the sound effects. If you switch off the music and then back on it's even louder than before. Apart from fixing that, I'd add a brightness slider on top of that as the game is pretty dark. The button setup is perfect for me personally, but I can see people wanting to configure them which they cannot.


Selecting the classic mode, you can choose between 4 characters (that you never see). David Bowie, Dy-No-Mite!, Gorton, and The Tank are just different in their starting weapons and their speed, damage, fire rate and health stats. After a short loading time you are sent right into the action. Appearing inside an elevator indicating that you're on floor 1 of 8 you step outside to see you're in a bleak complex with ventilation shafts and cube-sized randomly generated rooms that are connected with each other. Without any background story it almost feels as if you've lost your memory and once you step into the next room you're thrown into a nightmare full of fire-breathing horned demons, rocket-throwing flying mutant turtles, little hooded mages with red glowing eyes, teleporting sword swinging ninja spirits, ghost sharks that swim through the floor and home in on you, and huge blood-spitting whales. With many of the marine-like enemies you could assume that you are somewhere underwater, an in fact you are in a submarine infested with paranormal crazyness, but that is never explained to the player. Anyway, who cares about losing your memory and what's going on as long as you still have your weapons. So the shootfest begins, pumped up by the hardcore soundtrack that moves relentlessly through the game not caring about the things happening on the screen.


At the bottom of the screen, you have an interface showing all kinds of information, but the game doesn't make clear what it all means. While it's nice figuring things out on its own and not being forced into a tutorial, this game could at least have some instructions in the manual, however the electronic manual is just one page showing what the buttons do and nothing else. There's a meter for your weapon power, your energy, your armor, a handy map, your bombs, your money, and any special pick-ups you acquired. You move around with the left analog stick and aim with the right one. Shoot with ZR and jump with ZL. Switch between your two main weapons by clicking the L button and throw bombs by pressing the R button. You can also buy things in shop rooms with the Y button, and use a power-up with the X button. The START button pauses the game and the SELECT button switches between map and off-tv-play for the GamePad. The game works also with the Wii U Pro Controller and the Wiimote + Classic Controller combo, but the 3 best control methods for Wii U first person shooters are unfortunately not available. As everybody knows from the Metroid Prime series and more recently Splatoon, Wiimote pointer aiming (IR), touchscreen-aiming, and GamePad motion-aiming (gyro) are more precise and faster options for console shooters. It's always disappointing when developers ignore features that would make their game much better.


Anyway, you're off to a rough start blasting and jumping around rooms filled with enemies, and get to learn the rules by playing, dying, and restarting. And that's what these roguelikes are all about: replayability through randomness and learning how to do better next time. So basically you explore the floors, and collect monster drops like hearts that replenish your energy or gold that is used to buy new items, until you find the boss monster room from where you can progress to the next floor. Like in Binding of Isaac some crazy symbiotic weapons can be combined, some are rather useless and others are pretty overpowered. So like in any rougelike a bit of luck is also involved, but that doesn't matter much if the gameplay is balanced. For the most part it is, but there's also an item called Gangus' Soul that is either glitchy or trolling the player. With it you are supposed to walk on ceilings, much like in the game VVVVVV, but instead of being a nice change of pace that could add some depth it swaps the aiming controls around as well and is more an annoyance than anything else, so either way, you're better off avoiding this item at all costs. On that note, I'd be happy to see an item collection screen that shows you the items you have already collected and what they do. Of course nothing like this is provided and so it's a game of chance about what items to pick up or spend money on and what to leave until you memorize what they do.


Paranautical Activity is a neat hardcore first person shooter that is much like the classics Doom or Quake, combined with the roguelike and random elements of modern games like The Binding of Isaac. It's about fast reflexes, non-stop action, and finding out new things. While there's some hefty slowdown when using some weapon combos in rooms full of enemies it's a quick pick-up&play style game that manages to be quite engaging. If you're into first person shooters that get straight to the action and don't mind dual-analog controls or blocky voxel graphics this could be the right game for you.

SKTTRSKORE: 7/10

Written by SKTTR, 24th April 2016
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Comments

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Awesome review! Thanks for continuing to publish new content for our website. Wink
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We support each other just like we can! sunny
Thank you my friend! cheers
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great review
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Good review.
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