The song of the Siren has long been rumored to be the downfall of many a sailor, its beauty has dragged the souls of many to the depths. The power that this mystical tune possesses will drive a man crazy and will put them under hypnosis that will prevent them from thinking for themselves. Its beauty and mystery don’t stop at mankind, the animals that live in the oceans are also obsessed with it, as you will find out in Pixelteriyaki’s latest title Radio Squid. Published by Ratalaika Games S.L this underwater adventure asks you to move from stage to stage, controlling the tune of the siren, and destroying all the sea creatures in sight.
6 worlds and 24 levels await you in this monochromatic action-adventure title. You control a young squid who unleashes the wrath of the siren by trying to obtain her song. A hermit crab tells you to play the music, the minute you reach out a slimy tentacle and touch the music box you are cursed. The haunting sound of the siren song will play, and while it does it will emit projectiles from your body that will hurt anything in its path, including yourself. Once you clear a stage the tune will stop, and the young squid will no longer be a floating weapon. A path opens, and you must swim through the door, destined to have to repeat the same course of action, that is until you reach the final stage and the curse is finally lifted.
Each of the stages starts with the squid having to collect the note that is held in a bubble. The minute you touch this all hell breaks loose. Enemies of different shapes and sizes will be placed around the level, you must plan to avoid their attacks while shooting your projectiles in their direction. You must be aware of the environment around you as your shots will bounce off the walls, and through the gaps hitting anything in its path. You may find that you are stuck in a room, only to note a gap on the opposite side of the map, you must touch the edge of the world and this will allow you to teleport around the gaming arena. This adds an element of difficulty to what is otherwise a pretty straightforward and simple affair. Killing enemies, and destroying the scenery will spawn coins for you to collect. These can be used at the end of each world to refill your health or buy a shield. If you happen to die, which definitely will happen, you will lose a random amount of coins, but you will just restart where you left off. Death is nothing to fear in Radio Squid, I lost count of the number of times I lost my life, but I was still able to complete the game with one run through.
A big boss battle happens every 4 levels, like with all the other enemies that you face, you must work out the best way to attack them while preventing them from hitting you. They all follow a very predictable pattern, and after the first minute you will understand how to destroy them, and it’s only a matter of time before you are victorious. It was a shame that the developers didn’t create a varied difficulty setting, or harder stages as you progress, this would have certainly increased the game’s longevity, and its appeal to the hardcore gamers. As it is, this title will appeal to people who want an easy ride, and a quick game to complete.
If you’ve ever played the original Gameboy then the graphical presentation of Radio Squid will feel familiar. A monochromatic view is present throughout, with a basic pixel art style. All the action takes place on one fixed screen that is surrounded by a nautical theme of shells and seaweed, this certainly was a nice touch. I liked the way that you had to observe the playing area to be aware of gaps, and this allowed for a small element of strategy and planning. The character models looked good, and the limited movement was smooth and simple to follow. The graphics aren’t outstanding, yet they work really well in this situation, yet, it was a little odd to effectively see a Gameboy style game on a large TV.
Fans of retro games will really enjoy the simple 8 bit synthesized audio which accompanies all the action. Calm music plays in between the madness of the cursed siren song, this matches the nautical theme, albeit in a computerised sort of way. The upbeat track that plays once the stage starts fills you with energy, and makes you want to take out your opponents as quickly as possible. The gentle sound of “Boop, boop, boop” as the squid uncontrollably shoots projectiles from its body was a joy to listen to and reminded me of a number of games I played on both the Amiga and Commodore 64. Like the graphics, the audio isn’t spectacular, but it does its job well and supports the theme of this title. If you happen to like retro games, then this one will probably stir some nostalgic feelings.
Before you start playing you are given the opportunity to select your controller setup. This allows you to choose how you want them to control the game and explains exactly what you need to do. The firing is automatic, and all you have to do is select the direction of the missiles, and let nature take its course. Even though I understood this I kept hammering the buttons hoping that I could somehow force more bullets to fly towards my enemies, of course, they never came, and I never learned from my failings. After approximately 2 minutes you will be a master of this title, and you will not have to worry about how to control the young squid, you can enjoy floating around each stage, even if it is only for a short period.
I was able to complete this title in less than an hour, now you may be worried that this represents poor value for money, I don’t believe it does. It’s not overly expensive, and it is enjoyable to play. There is however only limited replay value. There are no collectibles, or secret areas to find, and all achievements are easily collected through natural progression. As already mentioned, the developers missed an opportunity by not adding a hardcore mode. They could have easily linked achievements to a permadeath playthrough, and this would have made the game much more difficult, and attractive to a wider audience.
Radio Squid asks you to go on an adventure to remove the curse of the Siren song. This could have been a very exciting and daunting process, where the difficulty ramped up as the levels progressed, however, it just plateaued. Though it was fun, it really didn’t go anywhere, and all the action felt quite repetitive. There was no fear of death, and most of the creatures you faced were pretty simple to eliminate. For all its positives, and there are quite a few, I can’t get away from the fact that it feels rushed and unfinished. It’s not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, it just misses the mark on too many points. Can I recommend it? It was fun, and I did enjoy my limited time underwater, but at the moment unless you want a simple 1000 Gamerscore, or you are desperate for an easy 1-hour title to take your mind off another game, then I’d say to give this one a miss. If you do dip your toe in the water and buy this game, remember, the Siren song may be beautiful, but is it worth having your life cursed just to hear it sound? I think not!
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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Radio Squid Review
Gameplay - 5/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 3/10
The Siren song may be beautiful, but as you will soon find out listening to its tune is more hassle than it’s worth.
- Crisp monochromatic graphics.
- Clever use of the levels, which adds an element of strategy and planning.
- Nice simple audio that matches the theme.
- An easy 1000 Gamerscore.
- Low replay value.
- There is no choice to increase the difficulty.
- The action feels repetitive.