A frenetic and chaotic space shooter; this sounds like R-Type of game
Steredenn from Pixelnest Studio harks back to the golden age of space shmups when games were 2D scrolling affairs filled with countless enemies, numerous bullets and projectiles onscreen and oversized bosses. Within the first few minutes of playing I could tell it was my kind of game and I’d enjoy it. Its premise is a simple one: space pirates are attacking, blast them to smithereens.
This however it is not as simple as it sounds because behind its beautiful pixel art facade Steredenn is a hard game that has no checkpoints, no continues and gives you just one life! It isn’t quite insta-death though as you can take ten hits in a level before you are done and dusted. If you make it to the end of a level you’ll face a boss and if you manage to defeat these bosses you can replenish your health and pick a power-up before moving onto the next level. The power-ups are varied as well as random and include such things as increasing your score by 20%, adding extra guns, increasing the power of your weapons or giving you a shield. These give you the option of playing Steredenn different ways. For example if you want to climb the leaderboard you’d pick a score reward whereas if you were trying to complete the game you’d pick a weapon one.
Talking of weapons, Steredenn has quite a selection. You start with a basic blaster but as you progress through the waves you will be able to collect weapons like rockets, homing missiles, lasers, swords, saws, flamethrowers and so on. As you play the game you will quickly realise that not all the weapons suit your style of play. Sure the snapping iron jaws and the sword look really cool but you have to be up close and personal with the enemies if they are to be effective, which makes dodging their bullets hard. I found the laser was a perfect weapon for me as it allowed me to stay (cower) at the other side of the screen. Well, you might think that’s the cowards way of playing but it gives you more chance of staying alive.
Steredenn has rogue-like elements with the levels and waves being randomly generated. This constantly keeps you on your toes and keeps the game feeling fresh. It also means you can’t just memorise the path and pattern of enemies like you could with older shmups. There are even different variations of the bosses (which also have different attacks) so you’ll need to pay attention when the game is showing you the name and version of the boss.
Some people may feel hard done by as Steredenn looks on paper like a short game as there are only eight levels but let’s not forget that some of the classics weren’t that big either. R-Type only had eight levels and Gradius only seven yet they are still considered to be the best of the best by many. However if you are looking for more then you’ll be pleased to know that Steredenn does pack in a few little extras in the form of online leaderboards, daily runs, an arena mode and if you manage to finish the main game you can even try your hand at superplay, a mode that removes all the random variants.
As it’s a shmup there is no complicated control system and it’s all pretty straightforward. You move around by using the left stick, fire with the cross button or R2 trigger, switch weapons with square and collect power-ups by hitting triangle button. These controls feel really responsive which is crucial as precise movement is needed to avoid the onslaught of bullets.
The trophies are mainly tied to defeating the bosses with eight bronze awarded for doing just that. Then there are two gold trophies up for grabs; one for finishing the game and one for beating the game only using the blaster. As I mentioned earlier this game is hard so if you do manage to pop these golds then you will have earned my utmost respect.
Steredenn is an excellent Shmup. Its pixel-art style gives it a retro, old-skool shooter feel. The rogue-like elements coupled with the insane difficulty of the game means that you might never make it to the end of the game, but man it sure is enjoyable and fun trying. Steredenn gets a bullet-hell yeah from us.
NelMaNo Rating – 8/10