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Review: Subaeria for XBOX One, PS4, and Steam

If you remember, a few days back we mentioned the release of an indie game that had roguelike elements on top of action and puzzle solving. Well now we’ve gotten to fully review the game in question and we’re ready to share our full-fledged results with you. The title is Subaeria (iLLOGIKA, $14.99) and we will definitely be diving into it!

Game Description:

‘In Subaeria, players must use their ingenuity to manipulate their enemies into destroying each other. They will have to be smart and strategic in how they approach the different levels to use the environment and their abilities to defeat the enemies in this action puzzler.

Combining platform and puzzle gameplay mechanics with roguelike elements, Subaeria‘s single player campaign challenges player’s skills to control the movements of robot adversaries through clever use of their drone and abilities. Each play-through is procedurally generated and gradually increases the puzzle solving difficulty, unlocking power-ups and demanding strategic thinking in order to manipulate the surroundings and character’s skills.’

Features:

  • ‘Pit your enemies against the environment and one another to defeat them.
  • Use skills equipped to your drone to influence your robot enemies.
  • Every room is a puzzle, use the skills you’ve collected or maneuver Styx around to take out her enemies.
  • Unlock different skills, buffs, and endings at each play-through.
  • Explore and discover new rooms throughout the labyrinth on each play session.’

Release Trailer:

Audio & Soundtrack:

From the very moment that the game starts up, you get some ultra glorious music. As the cutscene ensues, there is nothing but fluttery, sultry tunes. It’s like if Donkey Kong’s water level music was House music! I really think that that description is spot on. Now, of course, the music changes and adapts to the levels that you come across as the game continues. There are definitely more heavy sounding scores written for the more epic moments of the game. But all in all, I have zero complaints about the music. I’m a sucker for a game with a fantastic soundtrack and this game has been paired up with the most pleasing sounds.

There isn’t much to say in this game in way of sound effects, so I’ll keep it brief. Time and time again I’ve raved about games that are science fiction. More specifically, I love it when they had to create new sounds that match up with their game’s inventions. This game has switches, robots, and lasers that are all of their own design. This means they could go cheap and reuse or recreate sounds that already exist. Or they could do what this team did and have custom sounds created that are something that you will most likely immediately recognize but are still refreshing to hear because you haven’t heard it across tons of other media. Additionally, the menus have the best (least annoying) sounds built into them. They’re super satisfying clicks for each option and selection. Good on them for keeping tight, clean sounds in the game!

Visuals:

The visuals in Subaeria, to me, are something to be desired. The lightning and the shadows sometimes can yield it hard for you to figure out how to clamber up some boxes to reach something. The graphics are fine, but definitely a bit repetitive. After entering several rooms, you’ll start to notice repetition across them. Sure, the levels are randomly generated, but it’s tremendously clear that there are assets that are used time and again. You’ll see boxes, robots, tanks, fences, lasers, neon signs. It’s almost like the game can’t be any more complex than several piles of boxes and some lasers tossed on top of a pre-determined puzzle. That’s fine, I have no problem with that, but it’s just like shuffling cards. Can it really be considered randomly generated if it’s the same deck of cards every time? It’s just the same deck, in a different order.

Now, the other half of the visuals are the cutscenes. They’re animated cutscenes, but they aren’t full motion animation. They have stills that are rendered by the artist and then they’re shown in order. I would say that whoever created the stills for this game is the most underrated artist I’ve seen in a while. You get so much more expression on top of the story. And even though you aren’t watching a full-on animated sequence, they’re portrayed in such a way that the viewer doesn’t really think about that. I also like that the renderings match the style of the game instead of being a stark difference of the way the game looks. I’ve seen that too many times and it makes less sense that a cutscene looks better than gameplay in today’s gaming environment.

Gameplay:

Let me really quickly toss out the downsides of the overall game real quick. Are you ready for it? It has long load times. Like, extremely long load times. I actually set in front of my TV wondering when the loading would end. The answer is a minute on average when first loading into a level. And here’s another tip if you’re trying to avoid dealing with the long load times for more than you have to. Don’t die. Now, it is definitely worth noting that I reviewed this on the XBOX One S. That means that your mileage may vary on a different XBOX One model, PS4 model, or PC configuration. I don’t want you to not play a game over some load times, but I believe that you should be aware of them.

Now we can get into the rest of the game. Without getting too much into the story, since that’s its best part, I can tell you that it’s sort of dark. You’re just a young girl named Styx, she lives down in the slums as it were. She does some dodgy stuff in her life, sure, but she never has any intention of hurting anyone. And then, the story takes the dark turn that I was just mentioning. It suddenly becomes a vengeance story that may or may not be the protagonist’s fault. And that’s the most that I’ll mention about the story. But I love it and how it’s rife with death and other dark themes.

When it comes to the core gameplay, it’s considered a roguelike action puzzler. Full disclosure here, I’ve never really played a “roguelike” game in the past, in fact, I would wager that this is my first. And to be honest, I’m glad this was my first true roguelike game even though I could still tell that it wasn’t perfect. I do believe that its imperfections are its charms. For those wondering what aspects of the game make it a roguelike. Well, it features dungeonesque levels that unlock as you go. There are randomly generated levels that have random baddies as well. There is definitely perma-death in the game. But luckily that part is only as bad as making you start back at the beginning of the area.

When you start the game in the beginning, you only have Styx. Later though, you can choose between four characters. I definitely know where the action of “action puzzler” comes in. You have to get through levels by completing the level’s puzzle whilst juggling dealing with the robots. The only way to do such a task is to use your trusty drone to temporarily take the robots over. You can turn them against one another or make them run into a hazard and hurt themselves as it were. But to touch back on the puzzle part; it never really felt too…puzzling. I’m not even that great at puzzle solving games, but most of the time it was the action part that caught me up. The puzzles themselves were easy to figure out, but it took time to get them done due to the robots.

Longevity & Replay-ability:

Subaeria at its core features single player gameplay. You’re not going to get longevity or replay-ability from leaderboards. There’s no DLC that has been announced yet. You can also forget about multiplayer in the game. It’s not an expensive game, but it isn’t chock full of any of those extras either. But where you are going to get some extra gaming out of this title is that single player gameplay that I first mentioned.

Due to the fact that you have multiple characters to choose from, you can play back through the game again. At the very least you can play through the game again and again as the levels are randomly generated. There are also different endings across the characters. As mentioned above in the features section, you can also experience new skills and buffs to use in the future gameplay. Now, I’m not certain if the gameplay gets more difficult as you get those new helpful buffs.

I would only hope that that’s the case, I would find it strange to play a game again and it only gets easier. I personally dislike replaying a game just to feel like I’m getting more value out of it, even if I enjoy the game. But I think that they offer enough in the way of incentive to get you to go back and play the game again. If at least once through with each character.

To get it for PS4, click here.

Want it for XBOX One, click here.

Need it for Steam, click here.

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