During these strange times there have been some positives. Most times people have spent several months working from home or been furloughed meaning they have got a few things done around the house, spend a lot of time with their children, siblings or parents and also the opportunity to clear your gaming back catalogue or try out one of the many titles you haven’t checked out. For indie titles, this means there’s definitely a greater chance you will be played. The latest release from Ratalaika Games is Radio Squid, let’s see if Radio Squid can take advantage of such strange times.
In Radio Squid you play as a squid who seems to be in charge of an excavation site, you are attempting to find the Siren’s Song. Why do you want to find this? Well, you’ve been unlucky because you’ve broken something which in turn ends up with you getting cursed. There’s something about meeting a crab and collecting coins. The plot of Radio Squid isn’t something that has a great deal of influence on your experience. Radio Squid could be described as a musical themed bullet hell kind of game, it’ll make more sense when you play it.
You start off in a room and have to make your way through several rooms before you find an exit. The only way to get out of the rooms is by destroying the enemies contained within. Unfortunately, the only way to destroy the enemies is to pick up the Siren’s Song located within each room, then you can start dishing out the pain. The Siren’s Song is a musical note contained within a room, however most times you need to navigate carefully to reach it before you unlock its power i.e. Bullets. The rooms are not self contained as such, if there is a gap to the left and right in the room, then you can move left and appear on the right-hand side of the room which can be useful when dodging bullets or enemies. The bullets you shoot out have a limited range before they disappear, but they also bounce off walls and can hurt you. When you have destroyed all the enemies, you will be able to move onto the next room. Destroying enemies releases coins which can help you buy stuff in between levels or revive you.
The mechanic of the bouncing bullets is quite annoying, because in a smaller area they can bounce several times before disappearing, but sometimes they hit you depleting your life. You’ll often destroy an enemy, then be hit by the last bullet you aimed at the enemy because it died the bullet will have bounced off the nearest wall. Going back to the bullet mechanic in Radio Squid, you don’t really control the bullets, once you start you can’t stop shooting so you have to keep moving, they are released to the beat of song although it doesn’t really matter. On one hand, this could be viewed as challenging, but it’s just frustrating, You have a bomb weapon that turns all the enemies into coins to pick up, it’s not particularly useful unless used when in a Boss room. The biggest problem with Radio Squid is that it’s not much fun to play. There are four rooms for each level. If you die then you have to start back in the first room.
Graphically Radio Squid is a throwback to an old Gameboy title. The greyscale interspersed with bold colours looks sort of endearing at the beginning, but there’s not a great deal of detail to them. The rooms are tiny, so there isn’t much to take in either. Enemies are fairly bland looking, they all look like some kind of underwater creature, none stand out in terms of detail or uniqueness. Musically Radio Squid contains some riveting chip tunes that pop along at a good pace. However, playing Radio Squid with the music turned off doesn’t really affect the experience either.
Radio Squid resembles a very simple Gameboy title with some excellent music, however, that’s where the positives end, unfortunately. Radio Squid is lacking in a lot of areas, the plot is pretty insignificant and the lack of control and input makes Radio Squid a fairly uninvolved experience, which is a shame. If you like your bullet hell games, then Radio Squid might give you an hour of niche fun, but soon the repetitiveness of the gameplay will begin to set in quite quickly. There are some interesting ideas in Radio Squid, but they don’t get the chance to impress due to the blandness of the Radio Squid experience.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Radio Squid Review
Gameplay - 5/10
Graphics - 5/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 3/10
Use the power of the Siren song, fire bullets to the beat of the music in this underwater adventure.