There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of bullet hell shooters coming along at present – no bad thing in my book! I’ve been fortunate to take a look at a good number of them recently, and was keen to run Rigid Force Redux through its paces. While I can’t say it’s my favourite, it still manages to be a great little title that has some neat ideas for replayability.
There’s a typically anime-inspired plot over laying the whole affair, but to be honest even after several play throughs of most levels I can’t say it’s really all that memorable or interesting. Thankfully, most of the exposition is kept short, letting us get in to the shooting action quickly.
Doubly nice, as the gameplay immediately gets its hooks in. As you may expect, we control a ship moving from left to right as we mow down wave after wave of enemy ships of various shapes and sizes. Even at its default easy setting, and with the default load out, this manages to be a fair challenge, as well as great fun. It’s not quite as visually pleasing as Natsuki Chronicles or even Ikaruga manage to be, but the models are nicely designed and detailed, and the screen is never quite hectic enough that we can’t keep track of what’s going on. That’s not to say there isn’t much going on, but good use of space and colour mean it’s rare that we die due to sheer blindness to the action.
It’s not long before our ship gains stronger guns – dropped by defeated enemies – and though there are only a handful of variations, what’s there all feel distinct enough to warrant actively searching out your favourite (the green, bouncing arrows we my go to, for their sheer ability to flood the screen with death). Each gun can be levelled up to a max of 4, with a new module floating around the ship for each pick up gained. com8com1 take an opportunity to mix things up here, allowing us to cycle through a few different formations, allowing us to spread the shot out to cover more area, or even split it in half to fire behind us at the same time, at detriment to our forward fire power. Only a handful of sequences really made use of this, but it’s handy to have when a few rogue ships slip by the initial range or our fire.
Support comes in the forms of various attachments that offer different abilities; for example, one sees bombs flying out of the top and bottom of our craft, while another sends out homing rockets. These can be levelled up as well, though only to a max of two. It did take a little while to be able to easily tell these pickups apart from the main guns as they look quite similar, especially while we were concentrating on shooting ships. We’re also able to temporarily boost our main guns with the green orbs that defeated foes drop. A bar along the bottom of the screen fills up as we collect these, and holding X charges up the ultra-blast that wrecks shop in no time. The rate the orbs are dropped feels almost endless thanks to the constant supply of ships to kill, so it doesn’t pay off to hold it until the end but rather use it often to protect yourself. Some sequences saw me holding just this button for big stretches at a time, as the bar was filling up faster than I could drain it. It never became too overpowered though, there are still blind spots that enemies can sneak in through and hit us.
There are a total of just 6 stages to beat here, though again, even on Easy that remains quite a challenge. We need to clear each stage’s 3 sections fully in order to unlock them as a starting point, though starting from any level sees us begin with just the basic weaponry. It won’t be long before power ups start dropping, but when attacking levels on harder settings we’re at a distinct disadvantage to begin with. Boss battle round out each stage, and are easily the biggest challenge. From a giant Venus Fly trap-looking creature, to a seemingly amorphous blob, there are some fun designs and patterns to fight against in order to pass the level. Clearing the main mission mode unlocks the Boss Rush too, which is a nice little bonus.
Arcade mode rounds out the package, but rather than just a run through of the levels one after another, com8com1 mix things up yet again. We only play one level from a stage at a time, but need to rescue X amount of spacemen and destroy X amount of bombs along the way on one credit. I appreciated the extra little touch this twist afforded, and was glad it wasn’t restricting in forcing me to play through every level, instead letting us pick and choose.
The 3 difficulties on offer also alter more than just enemy damage and lives; stages add whole new elements into them, with massive lasers or electric grids that need avoiding in addition to a much more deadly bullet count. There’s a lot to get stuck into if high score chasing is your thing, and the extra challenge manages to be fun without getting too annoying. It would have been nice if we could have added in a second player to help, but it’s not a deal breaker by any means. Those six levels stretch a lot further than you may think when the difficulties and modes are thrown in to the mix.
Rigid Force Redux is a fun bullet hell shooter that offers up not only great gameplay, but some neat extra twists that mean the fairly lean level count stretches a lot further than expected. Co-op would have been nice, and it’s not the prettiest title in its genre, but those are minor niggles that won’t detract from the experience.
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.