Radio Squid is, quite simply, not very entertaining. Another short and sweet release from our friends at Ratalaika Games, this Gameboy-styled shoot-em-up lays out its core idea after a matter of seconds and does pretty much nothing to deviate from it. This wouldn’t be such a problem if said core idea was fun, but despite an inkling of promise hiding in there, it ends up being a dull, tedious slog that had me trailing off far too soon.
Playing as the titular Radio Squid, we navigate room after room in search of the Siren’s Song. There’s a brief exposition at the start, but much like the gameplay it was simple and merely served as a basic set up, rather than anything particularly engaging. As we enter each room, a part of the Song needs collecting, which then allows us to shoot bullets out in time with the beat in order to defeat the enemies and collect the coins they leave behind.
In theory, this could make for quite an interesting take on the bullet hell genre, with rhythm and timing playing an integral part. As it is though, we just end up at the mercy of uneven beats, too often sitting around waiting to fire. You see, we can aim in each of the four cardinal directions, but the shooting itself is tied to the music; if there’s a lull in the audio, no bullets are fired at all. Likewise, if a sudden fast section comes up, bullets come out at a rapid pace and can catch us off guard.
These projectiles not only hit enemies, but also bounce off of hard surfaces back at us for a short distance. Most of the rooms are cramped enough that they’ll end up bouncing a few times, and can make avoiding being hit all but impossible. Add our own fire to those of the large sprites of enemies and their bullets and it makes for a cramped play space that is not just unforgiving, but lacks any real fun. A bomb allows us to turn all projectiles on screen to coins, but its limited use means that effectively getting anything useful out of it is harder than I’d like.
These coins are needed for the end game, where should we bring enough to the Siren something good may happen. I say may because, well, I grew tired of playing this before getting to that point. These coins also act as a revive mechanic (a screen you’ll see a lot), with a high percentage of them being traded in for an instant resurrection. The cost of this is massive, and with just how often we – and how easy it is to – die, any progress made to whatever this reward will be is constantly undone.
Having said all that, I do like the Gameboy-style visuals, and the music is somewhat enjoyable to listen to, it’s just that it really isn’t fun or rewarding to play along to. Crowded rooms lead to death after death, and the lack of control over our own shooting only compounds the issue. Another easy 1000G is about the only redeeming feature here, if you care about that sort of thing.
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.