Curved Space Review

Curved Space is tricky one to write up. On the one hand, the action is fun enough on paper, with lots of fast action and explosive gun fights. On the other, it’s incredibly disorientating to play, and I found myself only able to stomach it in very short bursts.

The premise is simple: in 3D space we manoeuvre a space craft around a play area while shooting anything that moves. The play areas are designed is such a way as to let us move around the entirety of them, with us going up, over, and under asteroids, bendy space stations and more. Our craft moves at a pretty rapid rate, and using twin stick controls we can strafe and swivel to attack enemies approaching from all angles. Movement is satisfyingly responsive – maybe a little too much at times – and combat is at least visually pleasing too.

We’re able to pick up a large variety of weapons to use, each with different stats and abilities such as the Mini Rocket launcher, Javelin, or Sand Blaster. Some weaker ones have infinite ammo, while other, more powerful fare will run out after a time. Initially we’re only able to hold two at a time, but various upgrades can be applied after successfully clearing a stage that allows us to hold more, as well as increase stats like weapon damage, health, or speed. Making the best use of weapon pick-ups and stat increases is key to success. We also have an overcharge meter built by collecting energy from defeated enemies. This gives our weapons a speed and power boost for a short duration, and is all but essential for when we’re getting overwhelmed.

It’s all well and good having decent kit, but the enemies don’t make things easy for us. Spawning in waves – themselves having different win goals, such as survive for a minute or kill only one type of enemy – they come in all shapes and sizes, and can be tricky to keep track of thanks not only to the numbers on screen but also the twisty levels letting them drop off of the horizon in the blink of an eye, only to pop back up behind us. Each level ends in a boss fight, with a massive health bar needing draining to win.

The premise is enticing, but in practice I found myself underwhelmed. As cool as the way the levels are designed, it can get incredibly disorientating and confusing in the heat of the action as to where we are, as well as where we’re being attacked from or where we need to go to complete an objective. Almost every wave had me scouring the station/asteroid for one lone enemy to kill to complete the wave, and they’d usually be looking for me too on the opposite side of the area, out of each other’s vision. Thanks to the way the gravitational pull works on the levels, the trajectory of bullets is also affected, which can work in our favour – but also against it. I’m a fan of arcade action titles such as this, and there’s even a hint of bullet hell goodness in there but my interest just kept waning with every completed wave to the point that even the big boss battles felt more a battle of attrition than accomplishment.

There’s a good few options to try and keep players coming back though. A campaign follows an alternate dimension hopping story, where we get to pick which path – and which levels – to tackle at certain points, while a daily run mode offers up new challenges each day for players to compete in. An endless mode does what it say on the tin, as do survival and arena modes. If you do find the action too disorientating like me, there are also comfort option in the menu, from performance to comfort and maximum comfort choices. I still couldn’t quite get one that I gelled with, but it’s also possible to fine tune your own custom settings which is a great shout by Maximum Games.

Conclusion

Curved Space is hectic, visually busy and fun in short bursts, but for me it just got too disorientating too often despite the developers best efforts to limit this.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Visually good
  • Combat is fun, in small doses
  • Plenty of game modes on offer
Bad
  • Very disorientating, even on the maximum comfort settings
6.4
Okay
Gameplay - 6
Graphics - 7.5
Audio - 6
Longevity - 6
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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