I’ve long been a fan of arcade scrolling shooters, so when one swings buy the Tavern I’m always keen to take a look. Despite my fandom, I’m really not very good at them though, and Grood wastes no time in reminding me of this fact.
It’s hard. Really hard. I was warned by Claudio Catalano, the developer, when I received our code, and boy were they right! When booting up Grood we are presented with three difficulty options; Hard, Hard, and Hard. Just in case the message wasn’t clear enough, Grood is a challenging experience. Yet, also one that I couldn’t put down.
A large part of that was due to the fact that the action is immediate. A lot of the time in scrolling shooters the opening few stages will take it a little easier, making repeated plays feel a bit slow while our improved skills and knowledge of the level allow us to breeze through. Grood isn’t having any of that. Within seconds there are enemy ships galore; smaller ones that kamaikaze their way towards us, while bigger gunships let off fast moving rockets in our direction. Bumping either the top or bottom of the play field also damages us, so there are very tight spaces to manoeuvre around in order to not get hit.
Our ship has 3 green lights on the side of it to indicate health, though often times it’s all but impossible to keep track off due to the speed of the action. Also not helpful is that once a certain amount of damage is taken the screen displays a cracked effect that distorts it slightly, as well as draining progressively more colour from the gameplay too. The more we’re hit, the harder this already challenging game becomes. Health pickups come along occasionally but only replenish some health, so if we’re particularly hurt we need to get a couple in a row to bring us back to full power.
Luckily our ship isn’t one to go down without a fight though. We start with a ultra-fast Gatling gun that makes quick work of the smaller enemies. Stage 2 brings us a shotgun that is slower but way more effective at wiping out groups quickly. Later an upgrade for the Gatling gun is acquired too, and I imagine more weapons and upgrades too – as I said, I’m not very good at it, and it’s very hard!
Moving the ship around is fast and responsive too, and when I hit that zen-like zone where I was ducking and dodging almost instinctively it really is a blast to play. I did feel as though sometimes my ship took damage when there was no real cause, but again it’s all so fast and hectic it’s possible I was just missing hazards.
Also doing some heavy lifting is an incredible heavy metal soundtrack that too wastes no time in getting going. From moment one I was struggling to keep my head from banging while trying to concentrate on the audio; in fact, one failed run ended because I did get too caught up in the music and stopped playing! Combing this fantastic audio with the fast paced, challenging gameplay makes for a great time, and as I said up top, I couldn’t put it down despite not doing overly well.
There’s also local co-op should you need even more chaos, and a 90’s mode – in normal play the camera is slightly angled to almost look back on the ship. In 90’s mode we get a strict side on view, while everything is super pixelated to look like a 16-bit title. I’m a big retro fan but I’d also not recommend playing in this mode often as it made things a little too hard to read and react too. The default mode looks far better, and plays better too.
Despite being a hell of a challenge, the speed of the action combined with some awesome heavy metal music made Grood a hard title to put down. I’ll likely never see the end of it, and yet I can see myself coming back for a quick session in between other titles simply due to how fun and frantic it is.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.