tachyon project review ps4 ps vita
Twin-stick shooters aren’t the newest thing to happen to video games. This controller scheme was introduced during the glory days of arcade-cabinet gaming, after all. However, they sure are a lot of darn fun! Helldivers, Gatling Gears, and even the recently released Assault Android Cactus are all prime examples of incredible games that best utilize the twin-stick controller scheme. Tachyon Project, the latest release by Spain-based Eclipse Games, is another game that establishes itself amongst the twin-stick shooter. Unlike others in the competition, Tachyon Project gives us more then just bit blasting. It also gives us a unique story.
Tachyon Project begins with two hackers infiltrating a local government network. The purpose of this operation is to test out their newest hacking program, ADA. On the first mission, ADA successfully hacks the city’s server, destroying anti-hacking programs along the way. Suddenly, alarms blare inside the control room. Authorities have tracked down the couple, smashing firewalls and defenses. Within seconds, an armed team is knocking on their door, ready to kick it down. Facing a desperate moment, Helen deploys ADA out into the wilds of the internet and cyberspace in an attempt to save her. In that moment, a team breaches the door, destroying the computer equipment on which Ada was born.
After what appears to be a narration from Helen, it is revealed to in fact be ADA, the hacking program. She has become self-aware and sentient. Orphaned in mere moments, she collects her information and sets off on her own mission. She wishes to find out what happened to her creators, as well as to find out more about their captors. She understands that she is built to infiltrate networks, destroy defenses, secure vital information, and exfiltrate swiftly. That is exactly what she plans to do.
One of the games biggest strengths is its story. While it may not seem like much, the fact that there is a story in place gives a sense of heart and purpose to the game. Visually, the game will undoubtedly be compared to the likes of Geometry Wars and A.I.P.D. However, Tachyon Project separates itself from those two games by giving a sense of why to the events that are occurring are happening. There is a reason why Ada is blasting away programs inside of a computer system and traveling across networks into the secrets of mega corporations.
In addition, the perspective of the story, focusing on the hacking program, is a nice change of expectations. It gives an idea of what would happen if something we built was given what we consider life. During the story, Ada gives quick details on her mission as well as on her feelings. There is even a moment where she recognizes that she has “hands.” Considering the times in which we live, it is great to see a cyberpunk type story, where the human isn’t necessarily the main focus. The story, sadly, ends a little too quickly as the campaign is only ten levels. However, this could lay the groundwork for something new in the future.
Tachyon Project plays as a twin-stick shooter, filled with rapid action, bright colors, and plenty of enemies. As Ada takes the form of a ship, players can outfit her with various abilities and weapons. Weapons include shotguns, bombs, missiles, machine gun lasers, and others. A secondary weapon port allows players to freeze time, drop mines, and use other powerful measures. Finally, players can equip additional counter measures such as increased health and defense drones. There is plenty of variety to the combat.
The campaign is divided into ten levels and each level is separated into five waves. Each wave has a different objective that must be met before proceeding with the rest of the level. One wave tasks players with destroying a certain amount of enemies while another has players survive for a duration of time. As the game is quite challenging, players will find themselves defeated by the enemy they didn’t see coming. The health of Ada is measured by a timer at the top of the screen and each time Ada gets hit, that timer gets lowered. If it reaches zero, Ada explodes. This does give some leeway for players and makes the game accessible. However, it is still challenging for those looking for a high score.
The only real downside of Tachyon Project is the length of the campaign. While there is a story+ mode for completionists, there is no multiplayer, co-op, or endless wave mode. The game is still a strong feat coming from an independent developer, but it still feels a bit underwhelming. It isn’t to say Tachyon Project is a bad game, but that the game is so solid that I wish there was more of it. I could definitely imagine rail-shooting segments in a future game, similar to levels in Rez or Starfox. Also, the level design is solid but could use more variety as well.
Presentation wise Tachyon Project makes quite the impression. The simple visuals give a sense of a living, breathing computer system, complete with moving shapes and glowing neon colors. The backgrounds move fluidly and the music is energetic. IN fact, the music is reminiscent of arcade classics of the 1990’s, such as Mortal Kombat, as well as scifi movies like TRON and Tron: Legacy. Coupled with the frenzied, chaotic action happening on-screen, it makes for an engaging gaming experience.
Between the PS4 and PS Vita versions, Tachyon Project is pretty strong on both platforms. On the PlayStation 4, ships and enemies move incredibly fast. Colors and shapes take strong form and the levels animate themselves. The cutscenes, told in illustrated slides, are pretty solid as well. On the PS Vita, there are a few differences. The backgrounds don’t animate as much but are still bright and lively. The PS4 uses moving hexagons for backgrounds and the PS Vita uses a vector-based grid. The Vita version does move slower, but not at a crawl. Gameplay makes the transition very well, as the Vita utilizes the twin sticks for the action. Ultimately, both versions of the game fit their roles well. The game is also a “cross-buy” title, meaning that buying on version of the game entitles the player to the other version for free.
Tachyon Project is a very solid twin-stick action experience for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. It great for home consoles and for on the go. While the story may be short and the game could have used more variety, this is a very solid offering from Eclipse Games that will satisfy fans of twin-stick shooters and action games.
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