Review: Futuridium EP Deluxe (PS4/PSV)

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Title: Futuridium EP Deluxe
Format: PlayStation Network Download (PS4 203 MB) / (PSV 461 MB)
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: MixedBag Srl.
Developer: MixedBag Srl.
Original MSRP: $12.49 (US), €9.99 (EU), £7.99 (UK) *This is a Cross-Buy title
ESRB Rating: E
Futuridium EP Deluxe is available on PlayStation 4, PS Vita, PC, Mac and iOS.
The PlayStation 4 and PS Vita versions were used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Gameplay:
Futuridium EP Deluxe contains an inconsequential story of a lone starship pilot who gets lost in a dimensional loop just before a big space battle, trying to find his way back home and shooting a lot of cubes along the way. Or something like that, because in this game you don’t need a story.

With a constantly depleting and limited energy bar, your only hope is to fly as fast as possible over gigantic space dreadnoughts and destroy all the blue power cubes, replenishing your energy tank and revealing the dreadnought’s white power core which must be destroyed to move onto the next ship. If you think that you can count on insane power-ups and a gargantuan assortment of weaponry then you’re out of luck with this one. Dual Lasers, a boost and the ability to turn 180° on the spot are your tools for survival and your only chance of completing this game.

Apart from the cubes there are a few laser turrets, mines, and homing missile embankments that can be taken out with enough hits. Their numbers increase as the levels progress and can become very annoying as the complexity of the areas also start to get harder. Learning the level layouts and finding the quickest path to destroying all the cubes becomes a necessity as some areas are quite large. If you spend too long without shooting some cubes, your energy will drain and a life will be lost. One single hit to your craft also means a lost life. If you have a credit it means you can continue that level to get the remaining cubes.

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At the end of each level you are awarded medals for not dying, your speed, and chaining cube destruction. For me, I tend to only get the Death Cheater medal for not dying and pretty much leave the rest for the perfectionists and hardcore Futuridium crowd. Mastering this game takes a lot of patience and a very good memory. Planning your route and timing turns is the key to success in the later levels where one mistake can be deadly.

Both the PlayStation 4 and Vita versions are tight and responsive in the controls department with the DualShock 4 feeling slightly better overall. Sadly there isn’t Cross-Save between the two systems as sharing the cube total and unlocks would have been nice. There are separate trophy lists for PlayStation 4 and Vita which will please some people, but sadly no Platinum Trophy.

One saving grace for this difficult game is the amount of credits you slowly amass. Your total amount of cubes destroyed remains after each game, slowly building up. At certain milestones you unlock different skins, a new mode, or the most important – an extra credit. After a while I had four credits to use for each game session which makes progressing considerably easier. I did encounter a nasty glitch where I should have unlocked a game mode after acquiring a certain amount of cubes but it sailed by the amount and didn’t unlock. So unless I reset the entire game I can’t see a way to get that last mode.

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You can change views by pressing down on the Directional Pad. I always favor the cockpit view in space shooters, but sadly this one is was without cross-hairs which makes the game more difficult than it needs to be. The inability to quickly and accurately aim is frustrating. I would constantly fire the lasers and adjust my ship until I lined up with the cubes. This strange omission doesn’t break the game but might put a few people off.

A quick press of the Square button instantly flips your craft 180° which comes in very handy and you’ll end up using the maneuver frequently, especially if you want to achieve those medals. As I mentioned earlier there is also an Infinite Boost (L1) and you’ll need to get used to using this whenever possible as that energy bar seems to drain at an alarming rate in the later levels.

As you might have guessed this isn’t your typical space shooter, if there is such a thing anymore. You don’t mindlessly blast everything in sight but instead: Plan routes, practice, and have ninja-like reflexes, especially in the insanely hard bonus levels.

Visuals:
The game has a very simple old-school look and feel with a healthy dose of current-gen flare and speed to keep it looking dated. With the PlayStation 4 version looking very crisp, clean, and smooth I was surprised at how well the Vita version holds up against it. You can notice a few less particles here and there on the handheld version but it feels just as fast and looks great too.

In the good old days, I was amazed at the 3D polygons of Starfox and its Super FX Chip. Nowadays on a graphical behemoth that is the PlayStation 4 this kind of look doesn’t seem so special and isn’t pushing the hardware in the slightest.

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Audio:
Not for everyone instantly sprang to mind when I first listened to the lengthy sixty minute soundtrack. It’s comprised of a wide assortment of styles with a layer of dubstep, house, or electronic. With subtle instrumental mixes of Firestarter (The Prodigy) and even You’ve Got the Love (Florence + The Machine) if I’m not mistaken, among the eclectic track list. Some will absolutely adore this game’s music which fits quite well with the old school feel of the game.

A nice touch is the option to instantly change tracks by pressing the left or right on the D-pad. You can also change the music and SFX volumes in the pause menu.

Above are some Futuridium tracks courtesy of SoundCloud.

Online/Multiplayer:
Futuridium EP Deluxe is a single player game, but there are some online global and friend leaderboards for that much-loved score chasing fun.

Conclusion:
With high price point for a game that’s free or only a couple of bucks on other systems I’m finding it hard to judge this game fairly. When you ignore its monetary value and ponder the basic factor of fun, I believe it’s a decent game which requires skill and determination if you want to reach the end.

I can see a unique brilliance in this game which could make it a cult classic, but there are some strange choices and flaws that also hold it back. I’ve found this to be the hardest review to score that I’ve ever had. No matter what number I end up with, I’ll regret. Cross-Buy is great but the price isn’t. Graphics are smooth and fast but the lack of a cross-hair bothers me. Progression is fair and forgiving but has a stupid glitch which might force me to start again. A soundtrack that some will utterly adore and others will definitely hate. It seems the developers name ironically sums up this game, a Mixed Bag.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature and the Share functionality on the PS4.

PlayStation 4 Screenshots

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PS Vita Screenshots

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