Developer: Studio Evil
Publisher: Studio Evil
Genre: Shoot ‘em up
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 13/03/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
“A love letter to ‘90s classics for the Amiga and PC” is how developer Studio Evil refers to Syder Reloaded. Hot off the tails of the Steam release, known as Syder Arcade, Syder Reloaded allows players to experience high octane shoot ‘em up action to a pumping soundtrack and flashy visuals. Does this game have what it takes to bring back the glorious shmup days of yore? Or is Syder Reloaded a love letter that gets lost in the post?
When it comes to shoot ‘em up games (or “shmups” for those more familiar with the genre) based in a 2D plane, they will usually play out in one direction, be it left to right or bottom to top. Syder Reloaded is a little bit different here in that the game is not forcing you to move along one plane of movement. Instead, you have to work within a set area and defend against attacks from all sides. This adds an interesting concept to the game and has you focussing a lot more on your surroundings than you normally would with this style of shooter.
Issues arise when the focus is drawn more towards the mini-map than it is to the action on-screen. Think of this as a shmup with tower defence style gameplay. Not in the sense of placing buildings to fight waves of bad guys, but in that the player can be tasked with defending certain objectives as well as destroying as many enemies as possible.
Like most shmup games, the player has a choice of different ships to use during their time playing Syder Reloaded. Starting with three different options, with more available to unlock by completing certain tasks and challenges during gameplay. As expected, this adds a greater level of depth and complexity to the game than first expected. Each ship has its pros and cons, be it in how it handles to how the weapons function.
Some (like the S-104 Dart) will have lasers that will fire in a straight line, whereas others (like the Queen Wasp) will have shots that lock onto targets. As players destroy enemy crafts a blue gauge in the upper left will start to fill up which, when full, will allow the player to let out their craft’s powerful special weapon. Standard shmup tropes of extra shots, drones and faster bullets also appear as upgrades in the levels for players to pick up.
Lost In Space
There is a story to this game, but it’s delivered in a way that is not engaging in the slightest. Text boxes at the start of stages and on loading screens do little to grab the audience’s attention. It’s largely uninspiring and doesn’t do much to make for a memorable experience. If they hadn’t included it, you probably wouldn’t have noticed. Aside from the main campaign, players have the option to dive into survival and training modes. Being an arcade-style shmup, high scores are always being chased so being able to hone your skills in these modes is essential to progress up the leaderboards.
Graphically the game is a fair bit more than the 2D sprites that you’d normally find in a shmup. High-quality 3D models adorn the foreground and the background, but it can get a little messy when the screen is full of enemies and gunfire. The amount of detail here is astounding for such a small title, and it was a nice change of pace to be treated to a plethora of different graphical filters that can be applied to customise the user experience.
There is a downside here: in the quest for highly detailed and high-quality models often enemies blend into the background and it can be awkward to decipher what it is and isn’t a target. Syder Reloaded has some amazing particle effects when players are in the midst of a tense space battle, this is an extremely pretty game.
The same can be said in the audio department, there has been a lot of thought put into this. The futuristic soundtrack that fills the stages is exactly what would be expected in a game of this style. That said, it can start to all blend together as the stages progress with not one particular audio clip or loop being particularly memorable. Imagine a slightly toned-down version of a Wipeout soundtrack. Robotic voices dictate to the player what upgrades they have or the status of their ship, it fits perfectly and the immersion isn’t broken at all.
Overall, Syder Reloaded is a different take on the shmup genre. It adds a little but takes a lot away from the usual formula of these games. Far from a groundbreaking game, but by no means a bad one, Syder Reloaded is worth a punt as long as expectations are kept in check.
Rapid Reviews Rating
Syder Reloaded can be purchased for the Nintendo Switch at the following link: Nintendo eShop
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.