Developer: Satur Entertainment, Sometimes You
Publisher: Satur Entertainment, Sometimes You
Genre(s): Shmup, Shooter
Platform: PlayStation 4/5 (Also available on Xbox Consoles, Nintendo Switch and PC)
Age Rating: PEGI7
Release Date: 09/12/2020
A code was provided for review purposes
What would you do if you were a sentient AI? In I, AI by Satur Entertainment and Sometimes You tries to answer that question. You play an AI that is designed to create military-grade weapons on a space station. You manage to escape in the first level, which to be honest, is one of the weirdest levels I have seen in a shoot-em-up before. After traversing a circuit board, you get in a spaceship and proceed to shoot your way to freedom.
The story in this game and the presentation thereof is quite unusual. The cutscenes are very low quality and the voice acting is very peculiar. This paired with a very basic, nearly non-existent narrative means anyone who wants to play this game for an intricate story should perhaps look elsewhere. I did, however, find it satisfactory enough to give me a reason to blow up thousands and I mean thousands of space-based scum.
At the end of the day, this game is a shoot-em-up or shmup if you will. The genre is hardly known for its heavy tales or tightly wound narratives. Most people play these titles for the arcade gameplay, screens of carnage and twitchy bullet dodging. I, AI certainly has some of those traits and while it may not hit the lofty heights of other titles in the genre, I did on the whole enjoy my time with it.
Shoot, Die, Repeat
Let’s start with the stuff I did not like. I found the enemy and boss variety, for a game like this to be quite lacking. Over the course of the twenty levels of the game, enemies got recycled a lot and I would have also liked more tactical boss battles. On the whole, the bosses were a case of dodge and shoot certain parts of the overly sized enemy. I would have liked bosses with more strategy, unique features and encounters that stood out. Everything was rather samey over the course of the few hours it would take to complete this short title.
The music and sound effects were also quite substandard. Firstly I could not even really hear the music until I adjusted the sound mix in the options. After turning the volume of the music a few notches, it helped but only accentuated how drab the music was for a game of this ilk. I want thumping electronic tracks that propel me through waves and waves of enemies. The music was no bad per se, it was just underwhelming and fell a little flat.
Pew, Pew, Pew
Right, now onto the bits I did like. I liked the actual shooting part of I, AI. Let’s be honest, that is really important and why we are here. Killing the enemies, collecting upgrade materials and firing your way through each stage was pleasant enough for me to continue. I loved the upgrade system and how you get better over the course of the game. I did initially miss the usual in level upgrades that you lose when you die, but this game takes a different stance in that regard and after the initial adjustment period, I really admired the approach the developers took.
Instead of floating icons that improve the firepower of your ship that you get in normal shmup games, you collect blue upgrade chips that can be spent in between levels to upgrade various facets of your ship and its associated weaponry. Whether it’s improved rockets, improved special abilities, extra armour or more lives, I certainly revelled in upgrading my ship through the course of the game. I enjoyed choosing what I thought I needed at the time and watching my ship get better and better over the course of the game. Watching your ship gradually turn into a killing machine is glorious.
A Plethora Of Special Abilities
As well as your upgrades to your current ship you can unlock and then upgrade other features of your interstellar vehicle. You can unlock five special abilities, which range from a laser and a shield to a screen-clearing bomb and mines. The usage of these weapons is based on collectable icons, so at least that lines up with other games of this ilk. I liked this system, I always had a get out of jail free card and always had a way to wriggle out of danger.
I, AI performed well, I had zero issues on that front and while the cutscenes looked weird, the rest of the game looked good. It is by no means an amazingly beautiful game, but it is perfectly in line with other games in the genre. The enemies, backdrops and bosses are all clear, crisp and easy to see. Enemy projectiles stand out against the background enough, which is very important in a game like this making dodging easier and even when you died. It always felt fair.
Enjoyable, If A Little Flawed
Overall, I enjoyed my time with I, AI and will be grinding out the last few trophies I need to get. Yes, the enemies and bosses could do with being more varied and more intricate but the upgrade and special ability systems, along with the actual combat felt rewarding and enjoyable enough to keep playing. It may not sound great or look anything out of the ordinary but on the whole, if you like shmup games, as long as you can overlook a few niggly bits and bobs, you will get some enjoyment out of this little space-based shooter.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
If you would like to purchase I, AI on the PlayStation store, you can here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.