Solar Shifter EX (Xbox One) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 10.09.2016

Review for Solar Shifter EX on Xbox One

Here is a game, a full and complete title with lots of assets, animation, and a pretty good setup made by one guy alone. Solar Shifter EX is the offspring of Elder Games, the developer behind Meridian: New World and Meridian: Squad 22, and with a helping hand from HeadUp Games, it is now showing itself off on home consoles. Cubed3 checks out the Xbox One version, but will it be able to stand up with the greats like Ikagura?

"Shmups" are pretty popular when it comes to indie games and this is another interesting example of the genre. It's made by a one-man team, which is impressive considering its solidness. The setting is a typical sci-fi story where evil aliens are trying to destroy the sun, so the main character decides to take them down. There isn't much in the way of cinematography but while playing there is a constant stream of communication from the allies of the hero. These are usually pretty interesting but can be a little on the small and quiet side, meaning it's easy to lose focus on them during an intense section.

Trying to separate itself from the crowd, Solar Shifter EX uses its title mechanic of shifting. This is essentially a short distance teleport for avoiding enemy fire and can add a bit of strategy to an otherwise cookie cutter experience. It is used heavily in boss encounters to jump past insta-kill beams but sometimes it can be hard to shift accurately, leading to a few infuriating encounters. This is due to the shift being to pre-set areas of the screen, which sometimes results in shifting straight into enemy fire. The controls are inoffensive, with the left stick for moving, trigger for shooting and some special abilities, with the right stick set for shifting. While this sounds alright, it can take a little time to adjust to. The pacing is great and the controls are responsive, meaning deaths don't often feel cheap. In other words: it is fun.

Screenshot for Solar Shifter EX on Xbox One

Speaking of death, let's talk difficulty. Solar Shifter EX tries it's best to be of a fair difficulty by using enemy patterns to depict a safe area on the screen, which is good… but it also means that occasionally the levels feel a little simple when compared with other games like Ikagura. When combined with a shifting 3D perspective, it can sometimes be hard to see where the enemies exist spatially, which would be acceptable but the checkpoints are quite few and the load times when dying can drag on. It's not game breaking, but it does make it hard to get immersed in the experience.

After each mission, it offers a chance to upgrade the ship. This is quite detailed and it's pleasing to have the ability to spend earnings from missions on new secondary weapons and upgrades for the main cannon. It is also possible to fly alien ships, which offers up some variety. The upgrade energy is dropped by defeated enemies and sometimes means there are loads of collectables on-screen and it's somewhat wearisome picking them all up.

The visuals are polished, with reasonably detailed environments and ship models. HUD design is minimal - almost non-existent, actually - meaning it's easy to focus on the action, the frame-rate is smooth, and the particle effects make the shooting enjoyable. The designs aren't breaking boundaries but at least they are well realised. Reinforcing the visuals is a heart pumping soundtrack with lots of electro sounds akin to Mass Effect's soundtrack. The game takes place in many locales, each of which looks very good and varied. It's these different areas, combined with the 3D camera movement, which makes the action feel so dynamic.

Screenshot for Solar Shifter EX on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Solar Shifter EX is a fun and dynamic shoot 'em up that embodies the genre and adds a little something unique. It's a well thought out romp with plenty of great moments, but it just misses out on greatness. No doubt this is an amazing effort from a one-man team and it will provide fans with plenty of challenge.

Developer

Elder Games

Publisher

Headup

Genre

Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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

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