Tachyon Project (Xbox One) - ReviewDan Carreras , posted on 13 July 2015 / 3,403 Views
There was an elegant simplicity to the original Geometry Wars which went some way to explaining its incredible popularity at the start of the last generation. It was both accessible and simple but also highly challenging at the same time. I recall being dumbfounded by a friend at university who was able to pull off 10 million points in the game without losing any lives; a feet I was never able to achieve. Now Tachyon Project has come along, and comparisons with Geometry Wars and those earlier memories are unavoidable.
It is indeed a Geometry Wars clone, which isn't necessarily a huge negative; Geometry Wars was, after all, one of the best arcade games of last generation, so as a starting point it's a pretty solid one. Eclipse Studios hasn't sat on its laurels either - Tachyon Project features a complete story mode, a plethora of enemies to try and overcome, and a ship upgrade system that is a genuinely great addition to the twin-stick shooter gameplay.
The story mode ticks a checkbox but it is pretty generic. You play as an AI called Ada, whose job it is to hack into different servers across the internet and combat various anti-virus routines which come in the form of ships. Ada has 'parents' (read: the people that created Ada and tasked her with hacking into things across the internet), which she becomes separated from after an agency traces Ada’s origins back to their home.
Ada, left in the great cosmos of the internet, sets about trying to find out what happened to her parents by hacking into various computer systems and servers. It's not a ground-breaking story, but the narrative does at least give some context to your actions and the things you encounter in the game.
The gameplay is, of course, Tachyon Project's main hook. At first you’ll probably notice minor annoyances (the craft that you control, for example, stumbles back slightly with every shot that’s fired), but you'll soon become used to them and will come to view these as gameplay intricacies that are there to be mastered.
It was during my third session with the game that everything finally clicked into place and I started to enjoy the whole experience. I was gradually improving, adapting to Tachyon Project's nuances and its steep initial learning curve. Instead of dying multiple times in fairly quick succession, I was now successfully dodging hundreds of new enemies, collecting dozens of point spheres, and racking up massive scores. Tachyon Project had me hooked.
Tachyon Project's greatest strength lies in its varied enemy designs and intelligent AI. Take the AI in Geometry Wars, for example. It's fairly simplistic - enemies for the most part simple chase directly after your ship. In Tachyon Project, by contrast, they not only chase straight after you but they find different ways to move around the screen in an attempt to flank or trap you, so you have to keep track of not just those ships directly behind you but those with more unique attack patterns. In short, Tachyon Project introduces different enemy styles in order to challenge the player, rather than just ramping up the enemy count on screen.
The health system is also quite unique. There's no instant death mechanic based on the amount of hits you take, but rather a timer which constantly counts down as you play. Should you get hit, this timer will decrease relative to how heavy the hit was, meaning you have some leeway before actually dying in a level, although of course it makes that level increasingly challenging.
Tachyon Project also has not one, but two power ups to use on each of the controller's triggers, ensuring you can get yourself out of a pickle should enemies trap you in a corner. These power ups can be switched out from the main menu or between stages, ensuring you have the right equipment for the job. The gun that you fire can also be altered, from a single stream of bullets, for example, to a fine spread.
As much as I came to enjoy the title, there are some problems. Too many of the stages are incredibly dark, so dark in fact that it becomes difficult to make out enemies (despite all of them glowing). As with a number of other twin-stick shooters the on-screen effects can also become a little overwhelming at times, making it difficult to make out your ship relative to everything else.
Tachyon Project is a great arcade twin-stick shooter that feels like a natural evolution of the genre. The game handles well and features some nicely varied enemy types, but it's also far from flawless. One thing's for certain, however - the screenshots don’t do it justice at all; there's an elegance to the game in motion that is hard to capture or convey with screenshots or words.
This review is based on a digital copy of Tachyon Project for the XOne, provided by the publisher.