GRIDD: Retroenhaned is an 80’s synth on rails shooter. Visually the game seems to get its inspiration from the likes of Tron and the current 80’s inspired scene ‘New Retro Wave’. If this game instantly visually pleases you, I urge you to look at other New Retro Wave stylisations such as the movie Kung Fury, which like this game uses 2017 tech and special effects to create an 80’s scenario playing homage to the only foreseeable future tech. With ‘hacking’ being a dark art of spamming buttons and being a complete nerd until you get into a ‘mainframe’ or past a ‘firewall’. Another game series that does this is the Blood Dragon series; Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and Trials of the Blood Dragon. 2016/17 have been great 80’s revival years so far. Although a lot less neon and electric, don’t get me started on the amazing ‘Stranger things’ TV series too.
On boot of the game you are almost instantaneously greeted with a very neon looking menu system. There isn’t much to do in the way of game options or control schemes but this simplicity is part of the games appeal. You have two things to control, the analogue stick (to move your ship) and the fire button, A (which can just be held down for the same rate of fire). The controls scheme help screen also plays homage to 80’s arcade machines featuring a joy stick in place of an analogue stick. You really could imagine playing this game on an arcade machine. Something else which is very 80’s arcade machine related is that there are no checkpoints or saves. Thats right, if you die you could be sent 30-40mins back to the beginning.
The aim of the game technically is to get to the end of the track. There isn’t really a story to this game, but you are some how hacking a computer of sorts flying a ship and firing a gun. Along the track you will be faced with things to fire at and or will try to fire at you stopping you proceeding any further. There are health pickups, shields and weapon powers ups. Even though this game is somewhat punishing, each obstacle you have to shoot gives you a new challenge to face. With this, each time you die, you are discovering or at least trying to understand what to do next time. In a lot of ways, if this game did have save points, it would be over much quicker. With the main game basically being the only level you will want to play, it allows the game to last much longer. There is an alternative mode, but this is only unlocked once the main game is completed.
There are varying enemies in this game and a lot of the harder enemies are just variants on things you have seen earlier but usually with the necessity to move quicker to dodge or to shoot with more accuracy or patience. To mention a few; panels that you will need to shoot to stop them colliding into you, moving shooting objects, objects that turn around and deflect bullets, laser beams in varying amounts and pick ups you can try to get to unlock another life.
On or offline co-op would have been a great addition to this game had it been added. 80’s arcade machines did have this, and would have been in keeping with that theme. A group of us took turns on this game helping each other out to remember what was coming next or for what to do, which in a way was co-operative. I can’t imagine this game being as fun with another sound track. The amazing sound track by Dream Fiend definitely kept us going, although in the later levels the music isn’t as great as the first.
Graphically this game isn’t trying to be a triple A title pushing realistic boundaries, but what it does do is set the scene to the best degree it can with no rough edges. From the point of view of someone who love’s anything 80’s throwback, coupled with a love of graphic design, ‘Aesthetic: the game’ would have been a better title. Even the menu got me excited. In terms of ascetic and preciseness in what it is trying to achieve, this game is on par with Thomas Was Alone. Its just a shame this game is technically quite short and very punishing. A randomly generated level survival co-op mode would be much welcomed for DLC or update.
There are no load times once playing the game, which is understandable considering the small size of the game, and that there is never enough on screen for this to be required. Most achievements are easy enough to get and will be combined over multiple games, although the majority require you to either play multiple times or reach the very end, if you can.
In summary, this neon 80’s fuelled on rails shooter is an amazing visual and auditory masterpiece. The limited game options and punishing nature of this game feels unfair for its price tag as commitment and a high skill level are required to fully immerse yourself to be rewarded by an ending. If you have the time to be up for the challenge, commit yourself and feel rewarded by the eventual win.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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