Further building on its predecessor, Velocity 2X not only offers elements of a top down space shooter, invoking thoughts of Japanese arcade classic Raiden in the process, but also brings in platforming elements that appear to be inspired by NIntendo classic Metroid. You would be mistaken for thinking this could potentially dilute both gameplay types, given the expected division of the developer’s focus away from a single genre, however it meets the challenges of bringing these two vastly different game types and marries them into a well-thought through game. Throughout the game you play as Kai Tana, Velocity’s female protagonist who as well as being a bad-ass pilot, is also as a nimble as a gazelle while galloping through enemy and obstacle ridden corridors. There are two other notable characters which help provide a simple but engaging story; a noble ally trying to help his race and help you go home, and a suitably evil and violent species that wishes nothing else other than to blow you up and enslave anything else that moves. The narrative itself is driven by engaging conversations at the beginning of each level and is accompanied by glorious artwork which almost completely distracts you from the unfolding events. It’s easy to see how most players would get dazzled by the visuals, and in fact the word ‘visuals’ is such a trite word to be used for something that is a work of art such as what Futurlab have wrought here. I would put this game in the same artistic brackets of Child of Light or Braid, such is the standard of artistry that is used throughout. Both space and platforming levels capture the theme of every area that you battle your way through, with a variety of settings which range from jungle planets to embattled space stations, so you are rarely left bored with the vistas on hand. Whilst travelling through the game at high velocity (see what I did there?) you are fed a healthy diet of high adrenaline electronica which suits the pace of gameplay while providing a gorgeous retro element that embodies classic space opera. The top down shooter was the original Velocity’s bread and bacon and so the controls remain clear cut, exact and allow you to deal with the hectic dodging and weaving you will promptly get introduced to. While this aspect of Velocity 2X is taxing for the gamer that is not an aficionado of the vertical shooter genre, the generous provision of checkpoints handily removes the tension that a more severe punishment would bring upon an ill-timed death. While the levels start off simple, they start getting more intricate and if you want to start grabbing those precious gold medals (the time-based medal system makes the leap to Velocity 2X wholesale from the original), you need to quickly learn to utilise the several different abilities that are available to you. Aside from the default linear laser cannons that you begin each mission with, you are quickly given bombs that are used for blasting through turrets and numbered points that allow you to progress through a given level. Each level is not all linked seamlessly either and your ship is provided with a targeted teleport that allows access to areas off the beaten path from the main areas. Eventually you are going to have to dock your craft into a port and access areas of the map that can only be reached on foot. This is where a much more challenging affair is laid before you and where those generously placed checkpoints will be thoroughly put to use. There are two main objectives that players will have to be mindful of when going through these puzzling corridors. Firstly is the gathering of Rekenium, a crystal which you are collecting for your noble ally and is also used to power various items. Secondly and perhaps most importantly, is the necessary speed required to get those numbered points open to progress through the rest of the level. All of these points are triggered and collected by Kai’s multi directional gun, and later, by a more powerful one shot unlockable upgrade. This is where the game is at odds with itself, however. The best levels are the ones that have a constant high speed pace (something combined by speed boosts which crop up throughout the game) at which puzzles solved by clever use of your personal transportation used in timely combination of jumping and sliding through tight crevices as the game frequently demands. Pulling off an impressive jump, dash then teleportation in quick succession and finesse provides quite the smug feeling of satisfaction, it must be said. However later in the game it feels like the developer has added one ability too far, specifically for some puzzles later in the game, the use of a ‘teleportation pod’ is needed. This requires you to stop, aim and throw the pod, allowing Kai Tana to then transport to its location. It’s jarring and feels at odds with the effortless speed seen elsewhere in the game and as such, leaves you itching to get back to your usual blistering reaction-led pace. Tidily wrapped in bite sized levels, this is either a game that can be picked up and hammered for a couple of levels, a must for a most handheld games, or devoured in a Red Bull fueled gaming session. Velocity 2X manages to take two different genres and assimilate them into a symphony of glorious sound and visuals. The only issue here is where the developers have seemingly tried to overcompensate for what could be perceived a simplistic game with unneeded game mechanics such as the teleportation pod. Certainly while in a different game perhaps the teleportation pods could have been a welcome diversion, here, such things only serve to distract from the game’s already impressive caliber. Vibrant, thrilling and engrossing, Velocity 2X stands as a well recommended addition to the collection of anyone with hankering for fun arcade shooters with style and innovation to spare. A digital copy of this game was kindly supplied by the developer of the game. Velocity 2X is currently available for free on Playstation Plus for Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita.
Velocity 2X, a game of two distinct halves is the latest effort by developer Futurlabs and as such, this game has been on my mind since I played it at Eurogamer Expo 2013; an outstanding gem that shone brightly within the depths of the indie caverns.