Review: Zotrix (PS4)

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Title: Zotrix
Format: PlayStation Network Download (184.5 MB)
Release Date: December 8, 2015
Publisher: UFO Interactive Games
Developer: ZeroBit Games
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E
Zotrix is also available on PC, Mac, and Linux.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
The opening screen includes choices of Arcade Mode, New Game, Continue and Options. It’s also groovy to note that the music tracks are identified by name and composer in little pop-ups on the lower left of the screen.

Arcade mode is just that. It’s as if you had sidled up to an arcade cabinet in 1979 and put your quarter into the machine. You can choose to back out of that menu, start a new game or continue.

New Game brings up an awesome arcade cabinet looking screen at first and then superimposes the controls over it. That’s a good thing. Check it out, yo.

No indication is given as to how to “Xit” this screen but, well, you own a Playstation 4. Also you read that sentence.

The first stage in Arcade Mode is totally Galaga with power-ups and the added ability to move your ship from the bottom plane. This level took me right back to the days of playing Galaga in the arcades. The enemy ships even riffed on those same flight plans.

… you will persevere and learn those patterns …
Because I played so much Galaga in the arcades in the malls in the days of my youth, almost always before going into the General Cinema directly across the mall, playing this level was a real flashback. I still remembered where those enemy ships and kamikazes were coming from. If this is new to you, you will persevere and learn those patterns. Trust.

After your level ends you are afforded upgrades depending upon your score from that level. It is also important to note, like back in the olden days, you do not start each level with full “health”. You begin the game with five ships and that’s all you get unless you score high enough to earn another ship, AKA life.

I won’t describe every level in detail because there are many.

Apart from Arcade mode there is the regular game. You begin your story, yes! there is a story, as a Lieutenant in space securing routes for travel. After a brief explanation about bad things happening, a Mission Control screen pops-up with mission choices and objectives, resource tracking, a store, a map detailing the various space stations and resources available at each one, an armory, and a “?” in case you need to review what each area of this space station HUD does.

There is far more depth here than I expected. I thought this little game was only an arcade shmup clone. It CAN be if you only play Arcade Mode. UFO Interactive Games has done a great job of building some sense into the purpose for the various level designs.

… I dislike typographical errors …
Like the first home video games had overlays turning pong into tennis, Zotrix overlays context but in a much prettier way which doesn’t require Scotch brand sticky tape and a flimsy transparent sheet of plastic your little brother or sister is going to step on in your room AND RUIN!!!!

The various levels have difficulty ratings and some descriptions like your cargo and what you can expect by way of enemy encounters.

The store descriptions contain typos. I dislike typographical errors. Unless they are so ludicrous as to become legend like “pwn” or “All your base are belong to us!” Actually that “base” one is just bad grammar due to localization but still, you get my meaning.

After you survive your mission and arrive at the next base you are met with higher levels and I didn’t see a way to go back to the previous base in order to beef-up my ship before launching into a higher level. I wanted to grind but couldn’t.

… mucho old-school bragging rights …
As with Mass Effect, it isn’t enough for you to have the cash for the upgrades. You have to have collected a number of raw materials. I assume, a risky business, that there is a chart somewhere detailing what enemy yields which material. Unfortunately that chart was not obvious.

The Resource Trading Room contains a kind of NASDAQ of prices for these raw materials. When the game indicates trading, it means it in the sense of capitalism and the free market, not like Shuhei handing Adam a disc.

A word to the Trophy Whores among you: this game awards a Platinum trophy to those gamers hard enough to earn all fifteen trophies. Only three trophies are awarded for Arcade Mode play. The other twelve involve “solving” quests which will include the far deeper gameplay described above.

A great challenge indeed, but for great Plat reward and mucho old-school bragging rights. That said, each of those Arcade Mode trophies are gold so they will help move the needle to your next overall trophy level.

Visuals:
Zotrix is a charming looking game reminiscent of its roots. It doesn’t contain the massive particle effects of Resogun but it doesn’t require that. It looks great and colorful. The text is enormous!

… This ain’t no cakewalk …
Audio:
Although not a rhythm game, the music certainly plays a part. The options menu allows two things to be changed. The player may control the volume of music and SFX separately which means you can always play while jamming-out to your own tunes in whichever way you like to do that on the PS4.

Me? I typically give the game composer(s) their due in the beginning and might switch to Spotify eventually to listen to The Ickies or Two Headed Cow. Choose your poison! And maybe taste my poison. I’m just gonna leave that sentence hanging there like a crazy idea.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
As far as Arcade Mode is concerned, never think you are getting off easy. This version of arcade insanity includes physics which means that when you fire your guns the ejections of the projectiles will move your ship backwards. This ain’t no cakewalk. The game is smart. And smart is new. We never had smart in 1980.

It is clear that this little 184.5 MB game contains a massive amount of RPG-like resource management which is a spectacular feat and a boon for gamers who thrive on it. A hardcore gamer of a certain ilk will find paradise here, while a more casual gamer can stick to the Arcade Mode for simple shmup Heaven!

For those gamers willing to spend the brain power and the time, Zotrix is a great game indeed! And even for those more casual gamers who want to relive their time at the mall spazzing-out at the arcades before buying Whoppers and Twizzlers and buckets of soda to catch the first run of Star Wars when they were 13, that’s me obviously, Zotrix is a fun game. The bonus is that after you own it you never have to pay another 25 cents to enjoy these shmups again!

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Keith Dunn-Fernández

Keith Dunn-Fernández

An actor/director and more lucratively an Administrative Assistant at a small paper company in NYC, Keith loves his games. And he loves to write. And he is a bit of a sarcasmo.

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