Steel Rain X is a side-scrolling shoot em’ up game developed by swiss indie game developer Polarityflow. Players will go from planet to planet, destroying enemies, collecting power-ups and colonizing the newly freed planets in an effort to create new technology and further the progression of mankind.
These types of “shoot ’em up” games all tend to follow the same formula. As you progress through each level, enemies will become more difficult. The game throws you a helping hand in the way of power-ups with each wave of enemies you dispose of, giving you the advantage. However, this only helps so far as a percentage of the way into the game, the waves of enemies and numbers they bring begin to overwhelm. This is where the second portion of the game comes into play. As you liberate planets, you will be able to colonize and create societies, which in turn allows you to craft weapons and upgrades, unlock skills and generate income to further your progress through the solar system. Upgrades include enhancements to your armor, wings, fire modes, and weaponry giving you options to explore and craft your own unique ship.
Visually, this game is very polished. Its 2D world has the expected dated grit to it, and the game hardly pushes the capabilities of the Xbox One, but, for the game’s genre and themes, it’s fine.
The music did feel repetitive and even though it was well composed, I optioned to listen to my own selection while I played, as I could only take so much of the constant and non-changing tracks.
Games like this are known for throwing everything at you. With everything going on at once, it’s easy for the screen to become too chaotic to make heads or tails of what’s happening at any given moment. I didn’t run into that issue here. Pacing is well balanced and only at certain times did I feel at all overwhelmed. Power-ups change the gameplay on the fly, each with multiple types of attacks based on which wings you have equipped, which also can be changed with the use of a hotbar. With all of these options available, each round has the tendency to be a unique experience each time through. Local co-op is supported, allowing a second player to join in on the carnage.
This is one of the only scrolling shooters I’ve seen that features a full level editor, something that isn’t often seen in games like this. Play with weapon and enemy combinations until your heart’s content, then share your levels online, or download other custom levels and see if you can rank with the online leaderboards. An arcade mode and survival mode are available, the former removes the crafting element of the game and focuses on straight action while the latter does the same with increased restrictions.
For the most part, I enjoyed this title. While it’s nothing to call home about, it was an interesting take on a recycled genre that honestly feels played out. On the surface, Steel Rain X feels like a cut and paste of other “shoot em’ up” games, but it manages to take a concept that has difficulty standing out from the rest and makes it its own. the games “RPG like” elements add to a game that otherwise would be a simple arcade title.