Review: Rigid Force Redux
Developers: Com8com1 Software
Publisher: Headup Games
Developer: PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, PC (Steam)
The aliens have begun their attack, and only you, the Rigid Force, can save it. Only one pilot and a trusty combat artificial intelligence can save humanity on the fringes of space. This is a premise you have heard so many times before, and it becomes second nature if you play games for as long as I have. I'm a firm believer; however, it's not what you have; it's what you do with it. Video games provide different ideas and takes on established ideas, and in the case of Rigid Force Redux, it's a familiar game with far more than a new coat of paint. Engaging, exciting, and thrilling Rigid Force Redux is a spaceship shooter that anyone can play and have a good time with.
Rigid Force Redux is an enhanced version of Rigid Force Alpha released in 2018 for Steam. A love letter to the spaceship shooter, Rigid Force Alpha introduced a familiar, old-school, yet modern shmup experience. Rigid Force Redux brings that experience to consoles, enhanced with new modes and features for players.
As part of Rigid Force, you pilot one of the most advanced interceptors in human civilization, and when all hell breaks loose, you hop into the pilot's seat and fight back. For those familiar with spaceship shooters, Rigid Force Redux is a familiar one. As a side-scroller, players navigate through one of several stages, shooting waves upon waves of enemies that come at the player from every direction. The enemies are aggressive, and the visual graphics are breathtaking, complimented by a music score that keeps players coming back for more. Rigid Force Redux looks and feels like the classic shmups of the 90s, from the bit blasting to the grand stages to a music score straight from the arcades. Where Rigid Force Redux separated itself from the rest of the completion is in an important aspect of the game that is positive to see: balance.
Spaceship shooters are notoriously difficult, mostly due to their origins. Many spaceship shooters are derived from arcades, and the objective of arcades was to take as many quarters from your pocket as possible. This meant making games as hard as humanely possible, often testing the patience of players and shattering ambitions to finish. This is especially true in games I've personally played, such as A-Jax and Gradius III, where a single death meant losing all of your power-ups and special weapons, making the game that much harder to contend with. Rigid Force Redux doesn't do that. Instead, it gives players lives, a health bar, and multiple difficulty settings to choose from. It's an unexpected feature, especially given the genre, but a welcome one. Granted, Rigid Force Redux is not a walk in the park, and even the easiest difficulty will test the mettle of players. However, every playthrough matters, and with each playthrough, players "level up," unlocking more lives and continues that can be stored. This makes every repeat playthrough of Rigid Force Redux a worthwhile march towards progress and, eventually, victory. I wish more arcade games adopted this as some will want the core difficulty experiences, and others that want to be challenged yet not overtaken by a game.
Difficulty options are nice, but gameplay still matters, and Rigid Force Redux is incredibly strong in this regard. The gameplay is inspired by titles DariusBurst, Gradius, and most especially R-Type, a classic known for its mechanics and difficulty. During the course of each level, as players fight enemy ships and alien monsters, players can access different shot types, from more focused laser shots to larger spread shots. Similar to R-Type, players can obtain shards, small drone units that attach themselves to your ship once obtained. Players can switch the shards to meet the challenges of combat. Players can focus their shards into one singular beam of power, causing the ship to slow down but delivering mammoth firepower. Alternatively, they may switch the shards to the rear to eliminate any enemies that are chasing the layer from behind. In addition to different shots, smaller automatic weapons, like missiles, can be obtained as well. After a quick tutorial, players are ready for the battle to come.
Rigid Force Redux is intense in its enemy engagement but becomes remarkably enjoyable moments in. The levels take players across space, within space stations, and planetary vistas, like deserts. Everything from mutant experiments to giant space bugs will be targets to your lasers. Each level feels like a puzzle to be conquered, filled with surprise and the unknown. The biggest highlights for Rigid Force Redux lie in the game's several boss fights. The first boss, a space station, may be a cakewalk, but rigid Force Redux challenges players, especially the later ones with multiple stages. These fights provide a welcome challenge, especially in a time when boss fights have become formulaic. Rigid Force Redux falls on that age-old mantra of playing until the game is learned, and there will be crushing defeats, but the reward for downing these massive bosses is incredible. It's a refreshing take on old-school white-knuckle combat, and it's made all the more better with tight controls and a solid soundtrack.
Outside the main campaign, there are several gameplay modes, such as Boss Rush and Score Attack. There are also achievements to collect for the completionists out there. Completionists will find the most longevity in Rigid Force Redux. Outside these gameplay modes, there isn't much more content to Rigid Force Redux, which is expected, considering this is a spaceship shooter. More content could have been added, but considering the gameplay experience and the content that is already there, I am more than satisfied with what we have.
Other than being a little light on content and a bit repetitive, Rigid Force Redux is an incredibly solid and exciting action spaceship shooting experience. Its gameplay is rock solid, and its presentation is sharp, but it's the reachability that many will remember. It's a spaceship game that allows any player to live out their Star Wars fantasies of being the lone pilot fighting the big evil space armada, making an experience that is challenging yet fair but, most importantly, enjoyable.
Rigid Force Redux was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch thanks to a key generously supplied to Stack Up Dot Org by Thunderful Publishing and Headup Games.