Blue Revolver (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 11.10.2016

Review for Blue Revolver on PC

The Blue Revolver, an environmental group, maintains the order of the planet. Its technicians are always on the look-out for bad scripts. Scripts can cause pollution, due to all of the junk data they create. It's a noble cause, but this bureaucracy is slightly unhinged. Mae, the "rabbit-eared technical genius," has gotten her mitts on an extraordinary piece of technology. Unfortunately for her, she's now become the target of the ruthless technicians. Whether Mae evades her pursuers, or meets a miserable end, is all dependent on the player. By the way, this is a surprising amount of plot for a shmup…

The 1990s can be considered the Golden Age of 2D shooters. Raizing, Cave, Toaplan, Konami, and countless other developers were putting out tons of excellent titles. In many ways, this game is a love letter to that incredible era. What makes a shmup great is that it doesn't need 300+ stages, experience points, or competitive multiplayer. If anything, the classics usually take 30 to 45 minutes to complete. Length doesn't matter, because the best games can be played for dozens or even hundreds of hours.

The amount of time spent on these games is justified by two factors: their relatively high level of challenge, and their depth. Blue Revolver wouldn't look out of place if it just happened to appear in arcades 20 years ago. Each of the five stages is filled with not only a relentless amount of enemy fire-power, but also a wealth of opportunities for getting a high-score. Basically, the scoring system works as such: destroy eight enemies in a row, and then use the special weapon to earn huge 64x multiplier bonuses. It's actually really simple, which helps make for an accessible game.

Screenshot for Blue Revolver on PC

Being accessible isn't the same as being easy, though. There are three levels of difficulty included. The "normal" setting is the easiest, but it's still bound to trip up anyone aside from hardened veterans. "Hyper" introduces a rank system. In short, the better someone plays, the tougher the game gets. All of those 64x bonuses come at a price. As the rank rises, the enemies will fire off more bullets and at higher velocities. Running into a bullet causes the rank to drop. Trading away a life just to make the game a little easier doesn't seem fair, but that's how it goes. The final setting, "Parallel," starts at the highest rank and never lets up.

After deciding on the tolerance for pain, it is time to choose a pilot - Mae or her rival Val - and weaponry. The best advice is to go with the arsenal that suits a preferred style of play. Special weapons require ammo, and it can be hard to come by. It might even be necessary to lose a life, since it results in ammo and bombs being replenished. Anyway, a special weapon designed to finish off weakened enemies might be good, but some will prefer something devastating, in order to wipe out larger ships before they make things too hectic. Unlike a number of shooters, the score isn't penalised for using bombs and losing lives, so throw them out like rice at a wedding.

Screenshot for Blue Revolver on PC

Aside from the "eight into 64" scoring system, there are also a handful of secret "break" bonuses. Possible breaks are indicated by cross-hairs, and they usually involve destroying enemies at a certain moment, blowing up all of their minions beforehand, or something else along those same lines. A few of the solutions might be a little obscure, but as muscle-memory develops, most should have no trouble catching these awards. When it comes to getting points, it's all about optimisation. It's a lot of practice, but it's also fun. Landing the 64x is always a nice treat, and seeing the score balloon shortly afterwards is a lovely visual.

More important than anything else, this is a game that just feels right. Far too many shmups ignore the most integral aspects of the controls and mechanics. Without these basics, the intricate and deep sub-systems are wasted. That definitely isn't the case here, thankfully. The ship moves at just the right speeds, the hit-box is fair, and there isn't a cheap bullet-pattern to be found. This makes for a game that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the classics that inspired it.

Screenshot for Blue Revolver on PC

The art direction and, especially, the music are just wonderful. Blue Revolver employs a "lo-fi" aesthetic, but it does so in a way that gives it an identity. The bold colours perfectly capture the action, and the environments have a very neat look to them. The excellent soundtrack fits every stage, and even a few of the enemy's bullet-patterns fire along to the rhythm of the music. The handful of unlockable remixed tracks is also a welcome extra. The character art is also very well-done, and while probably not necessary, it's a pleasing addition all the same. Quality aesthetics might not be required to make a good STG, but they can certainly elevate it.

As far as extras go, there's a fair amount of content. Alongside the aforementioned soundtrack remixes are an art-gallery, a training mode for practically every moment of the game, different colours for the playable ships, and a mission mode. The missions require the completion of stages, while dealing with unique conditions, such as enemy bullets that turn invisible. Achievements and online leaderboards will arrive at a later date, and the developer is adamant about making sure that there will be working replays when the leaderboards are completed. Every now and then, a game will have replay functionality, but they tend to de-sync and break. Instead of the replay showing someone getting the world record while not losing a single ship, it will show that same person running into the very first bullet that appears on-screen. That's eh…not good. Anyway, expect those features to arrive as part of the post-launch support.

Screenshot for Blue Revolver on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Everything about Blue Revolver is well done. It nails the most important aspects, while looking and sounding fantastic. There's enough depth to the various sub-systems to keep experts entertained, but at the same time it doesn't put off or condescend newcomers. Within minutes, anyone can understand how it all works. The levels are thrilling, the bosses are tough, and the variety of weapons offers many different ways to play. This is a superb pick-up for STG fans, and there is even a demo available on the official website for those that want to try before they buy. It's well worth checking out.

Developer

Stellar Circle

Publisher

Stellar Circle

Genre

Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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