Vritra: Complete Edition (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 26.12.2018 1

Review for Vritra: Complete Edition on PC

In ancient times, there lived a dragon known as Vritra. The embodiment of malice, this terrifying fiend plunged the world into despair. Eventually, the Gods defeated the dragon and sealed away its powers. Unfortunately (or not), when it comes to video games, seals exist only to be broken. Thousands of years later, the ground trembled and the skies collapsed. As ordained by the laws of entertainment media, the seal shattered. Knowing only vengeance and hate, Vritra rose from the depths. An army of foul creatures also appeared, as if they were summoned by the reawakening of pure evil. The hopes of Heaven and Earth now lie in the claws of Indra. With the almighty Vajra at his side, a dragon god will face the endless forces of darkness.

These days, it's not enough to merely say that a video game is good. After all, there are more good ones being released than ever before. No, it's on the critic to go above and beyond. One has to say something truly inspiring about whatever he or she is reviewing. Using metaphors as pure and incredible as Victoria Falls, they spin a narrative that captures the product in all its glory. The readers, gobsmacked by what they've just witnessed, will shout "Wow! I must play this immediately!" For a brief moment, everything would be right with the world. With all that in mind, is Vritra the spiritual awakening that shmup fans have been clamouring an eternity for? Ah… Well... Maybe it isn't. However, that doesn't in any way mean that it should be ignored.

Here's a title that understands the importance of fundamentals. Players aren't likely to experience a "once in a lifetime" event, but they'll still be treated to a fun journey. Also, at no point will the controls and mechanics ever fail them - there's always an appropriate level of feedback for every situation. If someone keeps running into trouble, they need to reassess their strategy. Being able to dodge bullets isn't always enough. Knowing what enemies to prioritize and what weapons to use can make or break a credit.

Screenshot for Vritra: Complete Edition on PC

Basically, Indra lives and dies by Vajra, which serves as a multifunctional pair of options. Vajra's weapon system is determined by one of four power-ups. These colour-coded items affect not only the shot-type, but also the placement of the options in relation to the dragon. For example, the green power-ups cause Vajra to spin in a circle around the protagonist, doing immense damage to anything that gets close. Options are also capable of deflecting bullets, which is all the more reason to utilize them properly.

The scoring system revolves entirely around a boost mechanic. By pressing the secondary fire button, Indra launches a massive laser at whatever is in front of him. Vajra also gets a noticeable boost in power. Any enemy that's destroyed by boosted attacks will add to the multiplier counter. If the player is exceptionally skilled, the foes they destroy can eventually be worth over 200 times their normal value. However, there are a few caveats worth noting. The boost gauge drains fairly quickly, and the counter also decreases at a steady rate. Oh, and try to avoid dying, as that takes a significant chunk away from the multiplier bonus.

Unlike a number of shoot 'em ups, this doesn't take very long to show you the secrets of the scoring system. Whenever possible, the player should be using boosted attacks on large groups of enemies, and they should also use those to quickly eliminate bosses - yes, that's asking quite a lot of the limited gauge. Meter management is of course an essential skill to learn, but this takes it a step further. Every power-up Indra grabs will also cause the gauge to slightly recover. In other words, sticking with a single favourite weapon is not the ideal strategy. One must master all four of Vajra's weapons just to have a chance at maximizing their scoring potential.

Screenshot for Vritra: Complete Edition on PC

It goes without saying, but this is a tall order. Enemies are doing what they do best: unleash heavy firepower. If Indra can't properly manage the myriad of shot-types and option formations, all while dodging bullets, then his demise is guaranteed. It seems like a lot for players to deal with, but the game employs a couple features to make the learning process just a little bit smoother. First off, there are four levels of difficulty. It's best to master them one at a time, as they each present a significant jump in challenge. Also, Indra is capable of taking three hits before losing a life -apparently this is one of the perks of being a god.

Alongside the main game, you can also take on an extra mode entitled 'Mugen.' Basically, the player is charged with taking on an infinite number of short stages. Eventually, Indra will be overwhelmed and destroyed, so the goal is to attain as high a score as possible. The stages are all determined at random, and are denoted by various names. For example, the stage entitled 'Like a Rolling Stone' features a lot of giant stones to destroy. 'Dancing Queen' involves weaving between rock formations while avoiding spread-shots and homing lasers. The appropriately titled 'Pink Spider' is filled with spiders.

Note that this mode wasn't created merely to show off the developer's eclectic taste in music. It's actually well-designed and really engrossing. In lieu of weapon drops, the player can grab special items that clear the screen of danger, while at the same time filling the boost gauge. Since these exceptional treats can float on-screen for some time, it's best to save them for the right moment, such as just before a large crowd of foes, or to quickly eliminate a boss. Of course, being able to survive for a long time is also essential. After a certain number of stages, the difficulty will move up to the next level. Eventually the screen will be filled with all manner of death, including those dastardly revenge bullets. Reaching the top of the online leaderboards will require a very cool head.

Screenshot for Vritra: Complete Edition on PC

There are also plans to add a Caravan mode in a future update. Essentially, the player has two minutes to obtain a high-score. There are a multitude of targets to shoot down, as well as copious amounts of medals to collect. Bonuses are awarded for performing certain feats, like destroying two mid-bosses at the same time. If the rest of the game is any indication, then expect to have a lot of fun with this mode.

The key to Vritra's success is in how it embraces traditional game design. Success is measured by not just split-second reflexes, but also the ability to memorize stage layouts. Every stage has its own hazards to contend with, and having an idea of what to expect can make a big difference. It all comes down to practice really. Learning the intricacies of how everything works is rewarding in itself. Those who don't shirk at failure are bound to make a lot of progress. On the first trek through the final stage, yours truly was humiliated as Indra died four times. On the third attempt, the dragon was able to reach the boss while taking just one point of damage.

Also worthy of praise is how the weapon and boost systems subtly encourage players to experiment. If for whatever reason they're stuck with shot-type that isn't ideal for the current situation, they can make up for it with skilful manoeuvring and positioning. This helps to elevate the on-screen action beyond just destroying enemies and dodging bullets. The developer did a fantastic job of creating an identity for their game, so it's not so easily lost in one very crowded genre.

Screenshot for Vritra: Complete Edition on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

From beginning to end, Vritra is sure to have the player's full attention. Each of the five stages features an intense combination of ferocious beasts and environmental dangers. Even with a generous hit point system, it'll take tons of practice to conquer the hardest difficulties. The best fighters will also appreciate having their deeds chronicled in the online leaderboards. Both the Mugen and upcoming Caravan modes are especially addictive, and are likely to chew through free time like thin mints. In conclusion, this is a shoot 'em up that shouldn't be missed.

Developer

Neotro

Publisher

Neotro

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   

Comments

Gary Duke (guest) 04.01.2019#1

Usability is very high for this game, which helps a lot . Being able to resize the screen so the fingers don't have to overlap the controls, and being able to increase the movement sensitivity multiplier are both key reasons for the high playability of this title!

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