The 90s were a magical time for the world of shoot-em-up games. The folks at Storybird and Look At My Game set out to recapture the magic of these PlayStation 1 and Sega Saturn classics with their new title Enceladus. It certainly looks the part, but does it have the gameplay to match?
Enceladus puts players in the cockpit of a “Frost” ship, one that packs a number of unique abilities. In addition to a standard rate of fire, players can also do a charged beam shot, along with a Super Beam that works as the screen clearing bombs of the game. It’s pretty basic stuff, but it works well in the context of the game. A combo system is also available that can easily get into the thousands.
However, the biggest hook of the game comes with the ship’s teleportation ability. With this move, players can teleport past objects and enemy fire in the direction of their choosing. Levels, enemies, and bullet patterns are designed around this mechanic, and those looking to get past the first level best master it quickly. It does take some getting used to, and the meter isn’t always full when you need it to be, but it adds an extra layer of challenge to the game.
And this game has challenge in spades. Death is imminent at any given moment, with your Frost ship going down in one hit. Some bullets can be shot down, but the majority will need to be dodged. The terrain can often prove to be a challenge as well, forcing players to memorize the layout in order to succeed. To top it all off, there are no continues – players will have to start from the beginning if they run out of lives. Some may balk at this challenge, but it gives the dedicated among us incentive to get better. In a sense it captures the spirit of the shooters of old, for better or worse.
Aesthetically, this game is a looker. The sprite work on display is second to none, and the amount of detail for each character and stage is well done. The aesthetics of each stage are full of character, and the shimmer of your fire uses similar techniques to the 32-bit games of old. It truly feels like a game from an older generation.
It’s just a shame that this game has almost no replayability or options to speak of. There is no two player mode, no leaderboards, and no settings. There isn’t even the ability to natively use a controller. The presentation here is fairly bare-bones, bringing to mind something akin to an arcade ROM rather than a full-fledged release.
Enceladus is a challenging shooter that perfectly encapsulates a 32-bit style. The game might not have a bevvy of options, but the core gameplay is rock solid.