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  • Writer's pictureRoberto Nieves

Review: Zero Strain (PS4)

The fabric of reality is in peril, and it's up to you to link up with a waifu to save the universe. Zero Strain from eastasiasoft was released on PlayStation 4, and stands as a highly ambitious twin-stick action game with MOBA elements. With a unique art style and a new take on the shoot-'em-up genre, Zero Strain is a short but excellent twin-stick shooter that helps to provide something new and distinct in the genre.

Zero Strain doesn't quite have an established story. Zero Strain gets players started on a space station, helmed by a young woman, Aleira. She seems to be the station's artificial intelligence, capable of great power, but needs your help to help repair the dimensions of space. To do so, players use ships, or in the case of Zerto Strain " Catalysts." Catalysts are sent into dangerous dimensions to retrieve special items to power the station, unlock more stations, and eventually defeat the dimensional evil. The story doesn't quite add up, though, the design of Aleira is neat. Where Zero Strain lacks in story, it more than makes up for it in good, solid fun, with an exceptional presentation.

Zero Strain is a top-down twin-stick shooter with MOBA elements included into the combat. The goal is to proceed into dimensions and achieve specific objectives to retrieve items and power the space station. The ships that the players use, the catalyst, has multiple weapons systems, as well as defensive systems. Players utilize a basic weapons system to attack enemies, but their skill matters immensely, especially when staying alive. Players build chains through fighting the enemy and staying alive. A boost function on the Catalyst helps to avoid and pierce through enemy fire. As their chain and score build higher and higher, special attacks are unlocked, similar to a MOBA. The special attacks vary from Catalyst to Catalyst. Some attacks launch devastating bombs that clear the screen while others form defensive barriers to protect the Catalyst. In addition to special attacks, building chains helps protect the ship. The higher the chain, the more energy is placed in a special regenerative gauge. Once full, the gauge will automatically refresh and heal the Catalyst. Zero Strain rewards players who are aggressive, quick thinking, and confident in their abilities.

Zero Strain is exceptional in its combat mechanics. From the very beginning of any level, the action is quick and wildly aggressive, with colorful explosions and laser fire filling the screen. Each level transforms and controls as it progresses, further deepening the sensations of being in a mysterious dimension beyond understanding, except for the understanding that enemies have to e slain. In Zero Strain, the enemies are bizarre, but aggressive, constantly seeking your destruction. Getting ambushed by enemies, only to boost, flank, and eliminate them is profoundly satisfying. it can become rather chaotic to see so much happening so quickly, but it make Zero Strain that much more enjoyable. There is a chaos that strangely feels within your control as you play. During Zero Strain's several boss fights, strange and bizarre forms appear and provide a solid challenge, unleashing their energy and power upon the player. These boss fights are enjoyable to fight and outmaneuver, providing a unique gameplay objective that breaks the repetition of the other levels. Zero Strain is bolstered by a plethora of colors and abstract design as well. Zero Strain uses various abstract designs, shapes, color, and sheen to portray its bizarre world. It's a familiar color and presentation, but distinct nonetheless.

Zero Strain isn't perfect, and players should prepare for a few adjustments. The controls for the combat feel rather floaty. This is to simulate moving the Catalyst in a zero-g environment and hovering over surfaces. it can be disorientating at first, but is by no means breaks the mechanics of the game. Additionally, the gamepads its run time buy forcing players to replay levels with the three different catalysts. This is necessary to level up the space station and inevitably face the final boss. While the gameplay is still enjoyable, I would have preferred additional levels with new challenges and objectives as opposed to backtracking.

Zero Strain is a bizarre but enjoyable twin-stick shooter that executes it's gameplay mechanics to a finish and set within a strange world. While there is barely a story to the madness, the gameplay is strong, distinct, and certainly memorable, making it worthy of the price tag. For action enthusiasts, and for those looking for a different experience, Zero Strain is a good choice

A review key was provided to Stack Up thanks to a generous key provided by eastasisoft. Zero Strain was reviewed on the PlayStation 4

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