Tachyon Project (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 25.01.2018

Review for Tachyon Project on Nintendo Switch

Upon being thrust into the world on her own after her creators are suddenly apprehended, newly born AI Ada takes it upon herself to hack her way through heavily guarded servers so she can discover what happened to her parents. Self described as taking inspiration from classic shoot 'em ups, Tachyon Project (covered on PS4 here) is a ten-stage long twin-stick shooter where Ada's health is tied to an ever-decreasing timer and load-outs are given a heightened degree of importance. Like many other titles, modelling their identity around inspiration, does Tachyon Project struggle to take advantage of its premise.

Developers describing their games as "inspired by" is a trend that's become all too common in the past two generations. Inspiration and creation go hand in hand, but it seems videogames, more than any other medium, use inspiration as a crutch. "Inspired by" is a fine enough selling point, but it also sets expectations for identity and how strong an identity is can make or break a title.

Tachyon Project is a broad homage to shoot 'em ups, for better or worse. On the one hand, this makes way for individuality that doesn't rely on homage to be compelling. On the other, it makes the nostalgia-fuelled marketing tactic all the more confusing. A game can overcome faulty presentation, but how it's presented is important to recognise. As it stands, the project feels unfortunately insecure and that insecurity spills into other core aspects.

Screenshot for Tachyon Project on Nintendo Switch

Nobody is going to play a shoot 'em up for the story, but that doesn't mean a developer shouldn't at least try to forge a compelling narrative. Both the tutorial and the first mission push the idea of a story-driven twin-stick shooter. The tutorial is mostly dialogue establishing context for the world and the first mission features some lengthy cut-scenes to kick-start the actual plot. After that, however, the story effectively stops dead in its tracks. The lengthy opening is admittedly frustrating, but it presents itself in a way where it looks like it's building up to something grand until all that setup is thrown out the window. The plot doesn't feel committed to the rest of the game; it lacks the confidence to.

Once Ada is left out on her own at the end of the first stage, the storytelling takes a backseat, appearing in small bursts and raising the question, "why feature it so prominently in the first place?" A shoot 'em up's focus is seldom ever story, so it does make sense to phase it out quickly, but it should have been handled with more care.

Screenshot for Tachyon Project on Nintendo Switch

Gameplay is about what's to be expected from a twin-stick shooter. Ada moves with the left stick and shoots in any direction with the right, the bumper buttons fire off alternative methods of attacking, and the goal is to shoot down enemies and try not to get hit. Where Tachyon Project shows insecurity is in regards to its marketing and plot, as its actual gameplay premise is surprisingly well aware of what it wants to be.

The main story is broken up into ten stages, each stage is broken up into six waves, and each wave has its own objective that has to be completed before Ada moves on. Some waves are simple, requiring Ada to survive for a minute. Others demand she take out a specific amount of a certain type of enemy before she can move on. Perhaps the most interesting mechanic at play is how health works. Throughout each stage, Ada's health will gradually decrease, almost like a time limit. Getting hit, naturally, decreases the timer more, but health can be restored by killing enemies, incentivising non-stop action.

Screenshot for Tachyon Project on Nintendo Switch

At their best, each stage is a varied 10-15 minute bout that encourages focused play. Ada can also customise her load-out before each mission. What kind of gun she uses, the two abilities assigned to L and to R, and several perks can all be modified to create a personalised Ada for every occasion. Unfortunately, there is one major issue that holds the gameplay back.

In a genre where fluid movement is encouraged by relentless enemy design and an incentive for not getting hit, Tachyon Project suffers from some stiffness in regards to its controls. Ada doesn't move as smoothly as she could nor does her aiming always feel fully controlled. There's an almost blocky quality to shooting with Ada where it's important to strafe around the screen while firing in order to knock out enemies in diagonal angles. This isn't to say it's not possible to shoot diagonally, just that it's awkward. It isn't particularly difficult to get used to how she controls, but it feels she controls so clunky not because of design, but because of oversight.

Screenshot for Tachyon Project on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Tachyon Project is not bad and is a fine fit for anyone looking to kill an hour or two with arcade-like gameplay, but it comes off as disjointed. The story is presented far bigger than it actually is, the marketing tries more to sell the idea of an old shoot 'em up than a new game, and Ada's movements are stiff for the wrong reasons. That said, the missions are structured well; there's a lot to customise in Ada, and it is engaging enough to warrant a playthrough. There's a good game hiding inside Tachyon Project and hopefully a sequel can iron out the kinks to bring it out.

Developer

Eclipse Games

Publisher

Eclipse Games

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 Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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