Xenoraptor Review (Nintendo Switch)

Game: Xenoraptor
Genre: Action, Shooter, Indie
System: Nintendo Switch (Steam, Xbox One, PS4)
Developers|Publishers: Peter Cleary / Stage Clear Studios|Digerati
Price: US $14.99 | AU $22.45 |CA $18.99|£12.49 | €14.99
Age Rating: EU 7+| AU PG| US E
Release Date: 24th December 2019

Commence operation

You control a ship with four attack functions: a main laser gun, a sub rifle gun, a limited supply of missiles, and a dash. With these controls, you fly around in open space with enemy ships flying towards you.

You have to properly manage all your skills to survive. For example, you can’t just hold the fire button too long or else you’ll overheat and be locked out until the weapon cools again. Luckily there are item drops from ships you shoot down at times. This can range from coolants to increase fire time to recovering health.

You’ll see this a lot if you’ve played Contra.

This freedom of movement in Xenoraptors is something unique compared to other shooters I’ve played. It’s also a bit mentally exhausting if I’m being honest. The map is both big and uninspired with a background image of the planet level you’re playing on. On the other hand, the color of the world can dim to monochrome during intense fighting with the enemy ships.

Flying Leather Ships

The name “Xenoraptors” comes in with how your ship looks more like a leathery dragon. Normally you can’t tell unless you pay close attention to the design, or look at it up close at the hangar. The art of all the ships are great too. There’s a lot of fluid movement in how they move or fire weapons.

It’s something you may take for granted though. You have to constantly move and fire at the enemy ships. The map can be very big trying to find them, even with the radar to help. Good news is that the enemies will come to you anyway.

At the lower left-hand corner of your screen, the game keeps progress of how many enemies you have left by a percentage. It also shows a map where you and the enemies are, how much life or thruster energy you have left. Sadly, you might not even notice or read the details on the corners of your screen. They’re so small and you need to spend more time steering your ship.

Converge and destroy

Like any good shooter though, there needs to be a challenge. The first boss on the Earth level looks like a bigger, bulker version of the enemy buzz wheel, but it has some foresight to shoot its big laser at places you are going to be when dodging. Then again, the enemy is not all that bright as one of the hints the game gives you is to “trick enemies into shooting each other”.

A lot of this gameplay feels like an arcade, constantly throwing waves of enemies right after you clear the first. The difficulty ramps up more with each wave, with no clear indicator if you’re done or not. This actually turned me off at first as Xenoraptor looks mostly simplistic with just loading to the main menu with no preamble or story, just shooting levels. And aside from a button on the menu telling you the controls of how to play the game, a lot of it leaves you hanging in the dark.

Aside from the “story” campaign, there’s an endless mode where you fight off wave after wave of enemies until you die, and a splitscreen mode that functions for multiplayer. The hangar allows you to customize and upgrade your ship with new weapons that you earn as you play through the campaign.

Xenoraptor has some fun ideas and gimmicks. The rumble feature (automatically on) shakes whenever you get hit or veer too close to a ship’s hull. The music, while not memorable, fits the mood and hype up the dogfight you make in space. It’s a time sink commitment though even getting it customized to your optimal build.

Fun in small doses

As fun as it is, Xenoraptor delivers exactly what it’s described as: it’s a space shooter game with pretty visuals but hard to read UI text. It fails to hook me for longer than a few minutes though, I did have fun playing during my short stints. I can’t say I feel strongly for or against this game, but it’s got the basics down pat at least.

Verdict: I Like it I like it

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