Velocity 2X - PS4 Review

Velocity tries to mash together a couple of action-oriented genres, and does so very smoothly. It sort of reminded me of the old NES game, Guardian Legend in that half the game is spent flying about in a space ship while the other half is spent on foot taking on challenges at a more personal level. However, whereas Guardian Legend's on-foot segments were somewhat slower and more methodical, Velocity 2X sees our protagonist pulling off some deft platforming skills. The end result? A fantastically realized merging of two similar but different gaming styles.

The storyline is hot my absolute favorite, featuring a protagonist who is struggling with amnesia to start, though it does get more interesting over time. Lt. Kai Tana looks and feels a bit like Samus in her zero suit with the blue clothing and blonde hair, but the gameplay style is quite different than what you would see in a Metroid title.

The graphics are generally good. This is an indie effort and not a AAA studio, so I am not expecting Call of Duty realism here. I can really appreciate the visual direction, which is fast and smooth. The colors and detail actually reminded me of Transistor quite a bit, which was another great indie game. The music is also excellent, with a great driving beat most of the time (composed by Joris de Man of Killzone fame).

So to begin, the flying sequences are of the continually scrolling variety. The challenge comes from darting around obstacles using quick reflexes and also good strategy as you incorporate not only different types of attacks while fending off a variety of enemies, but tools like a teleporter that allows you to zip in and out of trouble as passages come to an end but new ones open up. There is also the option to speed up the scroll of the screen - ideal for racking up a better completion time but also ideal for getting your ship wrecked along the way, so striking a true balance between the two is key.

To be honest, the shooter portions could have made up a solid game on their own, but I much preferred when Lt. Kai gets down and dirty and the game becomes an action platformer. The pace is even faster, and the learned abilities are a bit more interesting. Despite both modes taking place on a 2D plane, it feels like there is a bit more control and a bit more 'going on' in this mode.

Both modes rely on a scoring system that takes into account enemies killed, orbs collected and time to completion. Both also work in quite a few puzzling elements, encouraging you to go back and replay earlier levels. Sometimes your new skills and powers will simply allow you to get a better score because you are better able to handle the challenges, and in other instances you might find yourself gaining access to a hidden level or surprise.

These puzzle elements are trickled into the space ship sections as well, as certain triggers need to be blown up in a specific order to advance. This may require that you take out the first two in your ship, then to dock and move indoors to take out the next three, then to hop back out into the ship to proceed forward.

This same approach is taken for the epic boss battles, where you are often doing battle from both the outside - and within. The pace changes up just frequently enough to help Velocity keep from getting stale, but not so often that the game never gets a chance to establish any sort of a real tempo.

Unfortunately things are not perfect. The story wound up improving over time, but is never a terribly gripping narrative. Also, the controls can be a bit tricky at times. Not that they are bad, but there is a lack of consistency between the same modes. With the shooting mechanic mapped to the right stick (with good reason) on the platforming portion, it is odd then to see the shooting button do something completely different when moving from ship to person. It would have been nice if the default button mapping had been consistent between the two modes, but if that is one of the worst things about this game, then Velocity 2X has an awful lot going for it.

Review by Nick


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