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Eschatos (Xbox 360) artwork

Eschatos (Xbox 360) review

"Eschatos is a traditional vertical Shoot'em'up with a modern feel. Features dynamic camera angles for cinematic action. Eschatos makes you remember why Shooters are awesome. The 2011 fight against space invaders is here."

Eschatos is a 3D vertical scrolling shooter. It's the spiritual sequel to Judgement Silversword on the WonderSwan Color from M-KAI. M-KAI also made two shoot'em'ups on the MSX computer: Pleasure Hearts and Kyokugen. He is the programmer for Eschatos.

M-KAI is regarded as a star among Doujin STG devs due to those releases partly. M-KAI's games often have a doujin feel, or may feel a little rough around the edges but the game-play is radically outstanding instead. That's exactly what M-KAI fans adore his games for. Eschatos was a project M-KAI had worked on for several years before Qute would release the game. For long in development, M-KAI had no idea he would be able to release Eschatos in retail. Eschatos is a labor of love in this way. And this is felt with the amazing soundtrack by Yousuke Yasui.

In Eschatos you're equipped with a straight shot, a wide shot and a bullet absorbing ball shield that hovers in front of your craft. However, you can't use any of the two at the same time and the shield has a recovery gauge. The shield won't absorb all types of bullets and when it can't, your craft can be pushed around. The shield can also be be used offensively to deal equal damage to enemies. Effectively using your shield is key to avoiding many unnecessary deaths. You also have the ability to change your ship speed between 3 settings on the fly. You grab shot power-ups and F-Bomb items that, when obtained clear the screen of bullets and enemies. Try to time your F-Bomb collection to help you out best!

A distinguishing characteristic of Eschatos is that the 5 stages are broken into separate areas that are announced when every enemy wave of the area is destroyed. When an area ends you have a small breather to anticipate the next waves of enemies. If you destroy all of the enemies in a wave, you'll start a chain multiplier bonus starting at x2 and going up x1 for each full wave destroyed. But if you miss one enemy in a wave you cannot build the chain further, and if you miss any more than 1, then those enemies subtract x1 each, from your chain multiplier. So you want to destroy every enemy and avoid dying, as that cuts your chain in half. Your chain multiplier is applied to every enemy's base points, every end-of-Area bonus, as well as any hidden WonderWitch bonuses you find. Getting the chain multiplier high and keeping it is a task that requires planning and execution. But pulling it off feels pretty nice.

Beyond Original mode there is Advanced mode where your shot power can max out at a higher level and to compensate, your Shield Gauge max will be lesser. Extra Shot Power-ups you obtain add x1 to your chain and the new yellow F-bomb takes 1 from your chain. The yellow F-Bomb is like a regular F-Bomb, wiping the screen clear of enemies but will also cancel all on-screen bullets into purple gems that surround your ship and can be used as an offensive attack. In Advanced, it's more of a balancing act of how high you want to get your chain and what power levels you feel comfortable at. I prefer Original myself.

Because Eschatos is 3D, Qute took to a cinematic approach seen in occasional STG in the past where the perspective becomes dynamic during game-play. It's executed pretty well. It's exciting and brings you into the action. It can be a little weird at first when bullets are coming at you at cinematic angles or when an object from the background comes into the foreground, smashing you suddenly. The trade off is a slick presentation that leaves you wowed instead. There are green lines to show you the invisible borders of the screen and red lines for environmental hazards when these moments occur. I respect Qute for not letting the dynamic camera take over the game, it is used in effective moderation.

There's Time Attack and an Endless mode as well where you play through the game starting at the Easy difficulty, and at each loop cleared, you go up a difficulty to Normal, Hard, then Hardest. In Eschatos, the more you play the more credits you earn to use in attempting to beat the game. And when you reach a new stage you can choose it in a stage select in the Options menu. Makes it very helpful for practicing the trickier sections later in the game. As you play more you receive more unlocks or "Option Levels" such as being able to download replays from the leaderboard and 3 other ship colors and other random stuff.

Eschatos nails it on overall presentation with a well executed, clean aesthetic-- reminiscent of games like Border Down and Ikaruga. The action stays fast paced and the stages are impressive. The explosions are awesome but you will suddenly die sometimes and I guarantee you will jerk in offense at how vicious your explosion is. You get a lot of extra lives through-out Eschatos, up to about 13 so you get used to it. If you beat the game in one credit, any left over lives will appear as colored ships instead of grey ones, flying aside you in the ending cut-scene. A detail I really enjoy. As for the story for Eschatos, the game-play tells the story. There are UFOs flying around spitting out flaming popcorn kernels everywhere. You don't take that. Stupid aliens.

Eschatos is region-free meaning you can play it with any region X360. If I had to give anyone advice playing this game, it would be to use your shield often! You won't be disappointed by Judgement Silversword and Cardinal Sins either. Both are included as updated ports with Eschatos. Eschatos rocks!


Aquas's avatar
Community review by Aquas (January 23, 2014)

Aquas is an STG fanatic, score-chaser and arcade lover. He hosts the Shooting Game Weekly on Youtube, a show that goes in depth on various shmups with passionate fans of the genre. Favorite video game: EarthBound.

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zigfried posted January 23, 2014:

Preach on brother, Eschatos is an awesome game. And yeah, the music is amazing -- so is the alternate soundtrack (and as far as DLC goes, I wouldn't mind more companies doing that)
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Aquas posted January 23, 2014:

Wasn't expecting someone to jump on and say, "Hell yeah Eschatos." Indeed it's a wonderful title. My review may be a little bit plain but I'm just getting back into it. Qute's next STG Ginga Force next review...? Love that one too.

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