I do love me a good shmup. I really don’t know what it is – the one versus all component, the fact that a lot of boss attacks come across like lethal fireworks – but I just get hooked when a good one comes along, like Super Galaxy Squadron EX or Dariusburst Chronicles, still one of my favorites in the genre.
Now, from the team that published Dariusburst, comes Exzeal, a game that released alongside Shmups Skill Test (an interesting release) and Trizeal Remix. I’m not sure where the name came from – not really seeing anything that has to do with zeal with this game – but whatever, it’s all about flying forward and shooting everything that comes at you.
The game does feature a number of different ships that are available, each with special load-outs that you can choose from, and plenty of firepower to send these flying enemies back to the stone age. So if you’re looking for a little diversity, it’s not bad. Not Super Galaxy Squadron, mind you, but definitely not bad.
However, once you get into the game itself, you’ll find that it’s…rather average, really. While the shooting action is nicely handled and some of the bosses offer a challenge, the game’s design by Triangle Service doesn’t really go beyond the norm. Most levels look bland, with some post-apocalypse sky here, some random fortress that exists just for the sake of existing there. There’s nothing that really stands out, like what Dariusburst Chronicles managed to deliver several months ago. It’s just a bit blander.
At least the game is fun to play. It’s not horribly complex, mind you, and there’s no real hook to make you come back to this instead of one of the other shining examples in the genre, but if you’re a fan of this sort of game – as I stated I am – then you’ll have a good time for about an hour or so, wiping out hordes of enemies and just how high of a score you can get.
But there’s just something underwhelming to the design. There are moments here and there, and the soundtrack isn’t nearly as annoying as I thought it’d be (it’s not entirely catchy either, but I’ll take listenable), but it just seems a bit cookie-cutter. And considering the game’s asking price of $11.99, I just expected…something more.
If you’re a fan of the genre and feel like taking a gamble, you won’t get burned out by Exzeal, as the gameplay certainly delivers and there’s plenty of scoring opportunities here. But there’s hardly anything “next level” about it either – it’s just another game trying to fit happily into the genre. It certainly beats some of the worst games in the genre, by far, but I was just hoping for more original design. Maybe Trizeal will deliver that when I review the game later this week…