Game: Cycle 28
System: Nintendo Switch
Publisher and Developer: Pill Bug Interactive
Age Rating: EU 3/US E
Price: £4.99/€5,59/$6.99 (not including the current 20% discount in Europe)
Release Date: 02/08/2018
Overall Grade: I Like it a lot!
(Review code kindly provided by Pill Bug Interactive)
Sometime back, I caught a glimpse of an upcoming 2D shooter that reminded me of an arcade classic in appearance, but yet, its press release promised a far deeper gameplay experience. That game was Cycle 28. Well, thanks to the kind folk at Pill Bug Interactive, I’ve been able to put the game through its paces, and I’m pleased to say that Cycle 28 is a fantastic game.
A Puzzling Storyline
Yes, ‘Cycle 28’ has a storyline! The game focuses on the plight of flight lieutenant Oliva Bergen. For reasons unknown, she finds herself imprisoned in time and space, separated from her fleet, and trapped in cycle 27. The goal is to discover why you’re being held captive and free Oliva from her cosmic prison. The task, however, is not an easy one; in fact, Pill Bug (the developer) have designed ‘Cycle 28’ to be a “community-driven puzzle.” This means that the game’s secrets are designed to be solved by a group rather than a single individual. This element alone makes ‘Cycle 28’ unique among other 2D arcade style shooters. I’ve spent a good amount time simply flying around looking for clues without a hint of boredom. With the ship’s log adding details for the player to digest ; the mystery continues to develop. Where does it all lead? I don’t know yet, but it’s a great way to keep players interested!
Classic Arcade/Rogue-like/Tactical Gameplay
‘Cycle 28’ blends classic 2D gameplay with rogue-like game mechanics. At first glance, it may seem to resemble a simple asteroid clone, but it’s much more than that.
Like your typical 2D arcade shooter, players must rotate, manoeuvre their ship, fire at enemies and bosses, and build the highest score possible. The game also multiplies scores after destroying vessels until your own ship gets hit. Prior to being destroyed, your ship can take a handful of hits, but also repairs itself if not hit for a short period of time. Each play session is called a cycle (or run), and each time you die, your ship’s abilities increase upon beating a previous high score. It’s also important to note that the force of your main weapon pushes your ship backwards; an important mechanic to remember both in flight and battle.
Another important point to stress about Cycle 28, is its focus on tactical gameplay. High scores are not obtained by simply flying around and firing gung-ho. There are times when you have to attack, hold back, and at times, completely change your position to regain your advantage. I’ve achieved some of my highest scores by holding back, shooting enemy drones, and unleashing a sudden all out attack on surrounding ships.
For the competitive gamer, ‘Cycle 28’ also includes a global and friends leader board. A proud achievement for this reviewer is that I’m currently listed at number 10! Sadly, I know this will change as soon as the world gets hold of Cycle 28.
Visuals and Sound
For a game that uses only a handful of sprites and colours, the game’s visuals look pretty good (at least to me). Being a retro gamer, I’m happy to play titles with minimalist/retro style presentations, but I’m aware that others may not feel the same way. The graphical designs used for enemy ships are also interesting. Ships vary in size, attack capabilities, and shapes. Bosses vary in shape from huge rolling-pin like designs to large gunships.
The game’s soundtrack is simply brilliant! It suits the overall atmosphere of the game, and it’s something I look forward to hearing every time I play ‘Cycle 28.’ It’s also implemented well during play and gradually builds up in feel and sound as the cycle duration decreases.
I like Cycle 28 a lot! This is the sort of game I can play for hours on end. If you love 2D arcade type shooters then this is a solid title. But as stated above, it’s far more than a 2D shooter, and Pill Bug deserves a lot of credit. Like the Switch, the game is something of a hybrid, in that it involves a mixture of play styles and a cryptic storyline. Personally, I’m eager to discover just what’s happening in ‘Cycle 28’, but until then, I’ll continue to enjoy exploring the game’s mysteries.