The Tron Bond
The 80s were a magical time of neon graphics and synth music, and Dystoria is trying hard to bring back those halcyon days. With an opening animation right out of a Dire Straits video, and a nice nod to 80s classic The Last Starfighter, the stage is set for an adventure in a virtual land with just your ship and your reflexes. This six-axis shooter with environment shifting physics will put you through your paces but also might upend your lunch if you’re not careful.
Neon landscapes and retro graphics are nice to see from time to time, and the last time I saw something this immersive would be in Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. However, instead of the obviously farcical nature you see in FC3, here it’s a bit more serious, and that’s not a good thing. Old school video games had no plot or story, or even sometimes a long term goal. Level after level was the way to go, and so it seems is the case here. With the opening animation spelling a story of intrigue and alien abduction, I was hoping for a lot more, or even any kind of explanation.
Visually, it’s an 80s wonderland, with its dark purples and neon reds and greens every you look. The enemies are low polygon machines with pew-pew laser beams ripped right from your childhood. The 3D maps are fairly well thought out, and the overview camera is actually quite useful in planning your attack on the many M. C. Escher inspired levels with so many twists and turns it’s easy to get confused. Getting lost isn’t the only problem however, as the zoomed out camera is easy to use, the first person mode can be downright disorienting when moving from plane to plane, and I found it hard to play for any length of time without needing to stop for a bit and stare at a wall. The transitions are too sharp and quick, and the first person camera takes too long to follow you, so its likely there’s an enemy you don’t see beyond the edge that shooting at you already by the time it shows up.
As for battle, the enemies are smart, and they vary wildly so you don’t see many repeats. It’s a nice change of pace from level to level. You also get different ships with varying abilities, and that only adds to the fun. It is an interesting feeling that would be akin to playing Galaga in first person, as you whip around corners to blast them with the satisfying “pew-pew”. The synthesizer music is a nice touch to really bring home the classic arcade feel, though it doesn’t change much at all throughout the game, so I would have liked to see more variety. If you want a retro shooter, you could do a lot worse than this, but be prepared to sharp movements along the way.