Side scrolling shooters have been populating the gaming landscape since the very first games were being released. Games such as the classic Metal Slug series or the recent and quite fun Shank titles have continued to shape up the genre to a point where innovation is now the name of the game to break through the market. Sine Mora, with its innovative time mechanic won quite a lot of praise, and well deservedly at that. Project Root tries to spread the side scrolling action around the whole screen as its innovation technique. However, the results are surely not as hoped.
Project Root is a shoot’em up game, starring some guy called Lance on his way to greatness. What I could make up of the story is that you are the good guy, and must fight the Prometheus Corp. We are given no real background of who they are or who you are actually, thus failing to engage players within the characters. The game then plays relatively simply; PS4 controls are left stick to move, right stick to look, R2 to shoot cannons to strike flying enemies, L2 to shoot missiles to the ground, and R1 to shoot special weapons which you may pick up after killing enemies. So far so good.
The game starts off in a tutorial arena which is completed in probably a minute, and you are thrusted right into the action. Bad guy upon bad guy flock on Lance to try to kill you, but you have to prove to be too strong for them. Flying enemies are not very tough to kill and go down in a hit or two, while land tanks or turrets need quite a beating to go down. These also fire a barrage of missiles at regular intervals, so besides shooting one needs to dodge the incoming fire. Missions typically revolve around objectives, which can include destroying buildings or enemies as well as escort missions, and while the variety is good you are still essentially moving and pressing the fire button all the time.
Unfortunately, there are quite a number of negatives which ultimately ruin a game which is quite promising on paper. First off, the only way to effectively kill enemy ships is to spin out of control while firing, since the enemies literally come from all sides. Second, you do not always realise you have been hit, so you may once see the health quite up high but in a second moment you die, due to improper feedback from the controller. Some enemies may also get stuck in barriers or mountains for example, and while you cannot destroy them, they can shoot and damage you. Enemies are also little bullet sponges; the first boss fight features simply me going round a huge ship while constantly shooting, and after more than a minute of spinning I finally destroy the ship. It feels more of a drag than a boss fight simply because of the monotony of it all.
In terms of graphics, it is probably the game’s best feature. The mission’s locations are varied and well created, and be it in the icy mountains or in the forest you will always appreciate your surroundings. Ships are also well designed, as are the different structures and locations. Unfortunately, the game lets down in this department as well. What may not seem a big problem is the fact that the mission indicator is a simple arrow on top of your ship, pointing to the next objective’s location. I searched for five minutes midway through the first mission for some sort of marker on the map or on the screen until I finally realised this. The second problem is that User Interface is almost non-existent. The menu screen is bland and too plain to even look good, and the upgrade screen of your ship is just as boring. Story prompts and dialogue happen while you play, and since the game’s story is strictly read only, you have to either run away from danger in time to follow the script or just focus on the action in front of you. Honestly, the first option is not worth at all since understanding the plot or not, you will still have the same shooting and spinning of before.
Playing Project Root really feels like you just boarded the cockpit of an airplane; there are thousands of buttons which you don’t know what they do, and you leave after an hour with your head spinning. I really have a headache after playing the game due to the constant going round and round, which ultimately gets you nowhere except to more merry-go-round shooty shooty action. This game could have been much more than it is, and it really is a shame. It does have its moments especially blasting through the special multiple missiles at the enemies, but their fun is greatly outweighed by the negative aspects of the game.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.