Cadenza Interactive’s latest game, Retrovirus, has an alluring world of infectious parasites surrounding large glass tubes warning of the true power of malicious computer software. There is a play on computer terminology and real world biological viruses throughout the cyber-plane. And with every new glass pathway traveling to the virus’ source, adventurers meet large bug-eyed corruptions, staring and clinging tentacles, across the user’s computer circuits.
But are the visuals the only thing to take away from this game? Or is there more to talk about such as the, “six directions of freedom” or the online co-op worthwhile or just extra baggage?
Retrovirus is an FPS game that takes many familiar routines—shootem’ up, pickem’ up,level up—and incorporates them into a truly bizarre and colorful world, creating an uncharted territory with a tangible manifestation of computer memory and email folders.
Player take control of an anti-virus program that starts its mission dissenting into a wormhole created by the evil virus at the desktop. The program is accompanied by Oracle, an omniscient protocol designed to talk the heroic process through its crusade. Other friendly characters within are introduced with speech cues, too.
Players collect Megabytes of memory by defeating enemies, blasting away corrupted viruses and completing levels. “Game Over,” is replaced with “Process Terminated,” and the appearance of the corruption has replaced lines of code and take a form more like the biological threats of man.
Between Oracle, constant objective updates, the scan function, and the hint paths you can activate just about anywhere, getting lost in Retrovirus is only a minor setback. Not even a problem. There are just enough collectibles outside the main path to encourage prolonged exploration. And each level has an extra combat or puzzle mission to help boost you gross MB. An average level in Retrovirus works on a linear path with hidden doors or exploratory crevasses just under the players nose, which lead to other extra rooms for Exp grinding and extra narrative content.
The music of Retrovirus is appropriately a collection of techno beats that drive the player to enforce their rule on the unlawful virus hordes. Players will be pleased to hear the sounds of organs splattering across the walls and electric beeps and pangs an audience would expect from going inside the computer.
Yes indeed, the game has held up to its name as an original piece so far, but what is holding it back after an original story and a refreshing look on an already popular game style? The answer, in this reviewer’s eyes is the “six degrees of freedom” promised by Cadenza proving unstable during play.
This promised feature can be easily explained as the free mobility in six directions (including vertically). Your anti-virus software can float upward with the space bar and barrel roll in either left or right with a corresponding button. By moving the mouse to look around and the boost feature with right mouse button, navigating through the world is quite fun and fluid when it works. Then screen fixes itself automatically if the players’ perspective is at an undesirable angle. It has a manageable keyboard layout, too. Somewhere along the way, however, I noticed simply looking around and colliding into other object brought the playable software ship straight to the floor and made it hard to complete more evasive scenarios. The constant use of the spacebar became a problem and boosting around the worlds became more irritating than my first impressions.
The weapons and upgrades in Retrovirus are all useful and enjoyable to collect. The weapons all have an extra function that activates when the player scans. The second weapon, the Interrupt has a combo ability that is activated with scan. It draws enemies near the shrapnel residuals and is a nice setup for a shotgun weapon. Upgrades can change variables in the ship’s performance such as health, regeneration rate, scan radius, available boost, and many other similar effects. Level ups come about once a level even without the extra battles and puzzles.
The game has a PvP online deathmatch mode where players create classes that give special perks just like the “Call of Duty” games have. Besides this, players are expected to share the six degrees of freedom with a friend in CO-Op Campaign mode. There is a button for the editor on the load menu, but it is still in the works. It’s a nice plus for the creative minds who see the charm to this quirky title.
The game’s unstable control scheme is holding back this title, otherwise it complies with the regular needs of a successful game: It’s set in a new uncharted territory, it puts players in a position they could not normally go to, it makes them into something they could never be, it includes online multiplayer both cooperative and competitive, and it has appealing graphics that draw the players in. It can be shown as a lesson that execution—how the game runs it’s commands—needs to be the focus of a well dedicated title before story and visuals. With a spotty execution of movement, however, the other factors of Retrovirus are harder to appreciate.