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Xeodrifter (PlayStation 4) artwork

Xeodrifter (PlayStation 4) review

"A small, good thing."

Xeodrifter is a lot of fun while it lasts. It’s a small game in both actual size and scope, and that’s okay. There’s a much larger, more ambitious metroidvania title available for PS4 gamers called Axiom Verge, which, in an effort to modernize, pay homage to and perhaps match Super Metroid, does all but the latter; and yet Xeodrifter, despite – or perhaps because of – its no-frills, pared down gameplay, might actually be more fun to play.

Xeodrifter gives us just four planets we can travel between in seconds, aboard our spaceship on the world map. This decision already tells us a great deal about how the game is going to go about its business; instead of a massive, sprawling layout of interconnected hallways, we are presented with a handful of separate, instantly accessible locales, and so the wonder of exploration is greatly reduced, but so too is the need for excessive backtracking – all supplanted by a ten-second jaunt in a spaceship. This is Xeodrifter trimming the fat.

Xeodrifter (Vita) image

It’s a lean, immediately engaging experience with a sturdy challenge which lends it some much needed staying power that would otherwise be lacking were it is easy as most metroidvania games. Save points are sparse. You can save as you dock your ship on a planet, and again before and after that planet’s boss. That’s about it. I've heard rumblings of discontent on this point, but I can hardly complain, since most games in the genre are too forgiving and this game is sufficiently short that you'll never lose out on any considerable amount of progress should you die at a particularly inopportune time and get sent back.

You’ve got multiple beam weapons which you can attribute level up points to in order to power them. You can juggle those points around at any given time to prepare the gun of your choice the bite type you desire, whether it be straight ahead beams, spreads, or undulating waves. And you're not doing metroidvania correctly if you're not earning new attributes required to ‘unlock’ previously off-limit areas. Super speed helps you dash over seas of magma; super jump helps you reach new heights; and with a tip of the hat to the developer’s other well known game Mudds, you are able to earn the ability to transport into the background and back to the foreground, giving certain sections a unique depth.

Xeodrifter (Vita) image

The way Xeodrifter handles its bosses is also decidedly unique. Ironically, each boss looks the same as the one before, and has the same attack patterns save for one new learned skill per go 'round. And somewhat surprisingly, learning how to defeat the same boss over and over again, each time with a new wrinkle, is a strange but cool experience: you get better each time, but so does he.

The game’s graphics are cutesy, unremarkable, but adequate, and the music is wholly forgettable. This is notable in a genre which boasts numerous titles that belong on a ‘best of’ list of soundtracks, with looks on par with the best their respective platforms had on offer; Xeodrifter does not share that sort of pedigree. All in all, the game looks like something that could have been just as easily accomplished on a mobile platform, and certainly the length of the game wouldn’t have been a barrier to that happening. Technical limitations aside though, Xeodrifter's sweet simplicity and ideal difficulty curve help establish it as one of my favourite metroidvanias.


Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (March 23, 2017)

There was a bio here once. It's gone now.

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bwv_639 posted March 24, 2017:

"Axiom Verge, which, in an effort to modernize, pay homage to and perhaps match Super Metroid, does all but the latter"

After running across hundreds of "Axiom Verge is Super Metroid to the second power, srsly its so better!" it's soothing to see somebody else is aware of that being not the case.

This is a review that says 2.5 ("the game looks like something that could have been just as easily accomplished on a mobile platform")/3 stars all of the time, and ends with a 4-star rating. I'll trust the review body more.

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