Project Root (Hands-On) (PlayStation 4) Preview

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 20.04.2015

Review for Project Root (Hands-On) on PlayStation 4

Project Root is a new PlayStation shoot 'em up that will soon be available on PSN. Shmups aren't a widely explored genre on PSN but there are some classics to contend with such as the ever crazy Cho Aniki and the more recent Helldivers. Rather than simply start talking about previous releases, though, it is time to delve into the juicy details to see whether Project Root is one to look forward to, or something almost forgettable. Cubed3 was lucky enough to go hands-on with an early build to see how OPQAM's game is shaping up.

Project Root does have a story but it's not well conveyed in-game - hopefully just 'at the moment,' with it being added in the final release - so research had to be done to figure out what was happening for the purposes of this article. Here comes a quick summary: Demetrio, the leader of Prometheus Corporation is popular for his work on cheap and easy energy production. His methods are so efficient and low cost that he owns the market. A group of rebels have become aware of Demetrio's true intentions and his heinous plans, so they intend to thwart him and save the world.

It feels like the next generation equivalent of a SNES top-down shooter like Super Aleste, but with one glaring problem… Root is extremely slow. Enemies move slowly, bullets move slowly, and the main character moves… slowly! Overall, the pacing just feels extremely disappointing. There is some uniqueness in the controls, thankfully, allowing for separate ground and air attacks, which helps spice up the gameplay a bit and add a strategic element. However, another drawback is how the level design is often quite simple, yet they are oddly hard to navigate. While the camera is user-controllable so that the viewpoint can be adjusted, with such a small viewport, it can become very disorienting when moving everything around.

Screenshot for Project Root (Hands-On) on PlayStation 4

Project Root's graphics are bright and colourful with a decent amount of detail but they are what might be called 'cookie cutter'… nothing particularly stands out. The explosions are pretty cool, with somewhat of an original PlayStation quality to them, and the lighting effects help the world look naturalistic, but enemy designs are pretty much typical, run of the mill ships and the player's craft doesn't fare much better, either.

One major aspect that is lacking is voice acting. It isn't unreasonable to expect at least a modicum of voice work to liven up the commands but sadly it is absent here. The mission objectives are instead provided via a small character portrait with a box of very plain text and because of this it's easy to ignore or miss vital mission information or key plot points. It's not exactly bad but not what is expected from a PlayStation 4 title or even a PlayStation Vita game (since this is Cross-Buy, meaning it comes free on PSV if bought on PS4, and vice versa).

Screenshot for Project Root (Hands-On) on PlayStation 4

On another note, it's also lacking the uniqueness seen in games like Strike Witches, where the player controls a team of three individuals who each have their own unique shot styles and they can be switched into different formations, or Velocity Ultra where the game had a blistering pace but was more of a puzzle game than a normal shmup. If it could have found something intriguing to latch onto and present it as an original feature, Project Root would be considerably more enjoyable. That's not to say it's got nothing going for it, since the upgrade system is quite addictive and helps add a little bit of depth to a game that really needs it.

Negatives aside, though, there is good game deep within. It features a thorough tutorial stage that is not the most exciting, yet but proves to be extremely important when it comes to learning the ropes. Each mission is split into manageable mini-objectives, for example, the first real mission begins with defeating a few enemies and builds up to destroying a factory while under fire from several enemies. The combat, which involves fighting air and ground enemies, is exhilarating and really livens up proceedings.

Screenshot for Project Root (Hands-On) on PlayStation 4

The difficulty level is acceptable and has a pleasing smooth curve from easy to very difficult, but the layout of the enemies means that if a level is proving difficult, it can be made easier by spamming both the ground and the air attack buttons. It's still surprisingly easy to die, though, if the bullets become overwhelming, and with everything moving slowly it can become problematic as there is an increased probability of flying into a bullet that is passing by, rather than actually being strategically shot. This also brings up another problem with the small viewport - quite often it is impossible to gauge when to dodge when a projectile is fired from off-screen, resulting in a small number of unfair deaths.

Screenshot for Project Root (Hands-On) on PlayStation 4

Final Thoughts

Project Root makes a reasonable attempt to be fun and exciting but is marred by its lack of pace, cookie cutter models and uninspiring script. It never feels like a PlayStation 4 title and will no doubt be far more suited in its PS Vita format and would have worked equally well on PlayStation 3. It can be enjoyable and maybe a game others will find amazing but, as of now, it's simply 'okay' or 'passable' in its current form. If it had had its own special 'something,' Project Root would be easier to recommend.




Reverb Triple XP





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

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European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


I love shooting games and really enjoyed playing this


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