Created by a single developer, Remote Life is a horizontal shooter with twin-stick controls, host to a dark and disturbing visual style with eerie soundtrack, and has a weapon system and difficulty configuration that makes gameplay fun and accessible.
This detailed $20 shmup would be an impressive release for any game development team but that fact that one person put all this together, including the soundtrack, deserves applause and recognition.
For a shooter, there is actually a lot of lore here. In short, creepy aliens have become a threat so you need to pilot a space ship and blast them into omission. For a quick comparison, it is almost as if the Alien movies merged with the original Contra games but outfitted with shmup gameplay.
Instead of being a fast paced, twitch bullet-hell, Remote Life takes a slower and much more deliberate approach. Each stage is hand designed and offers something a bit new from level to level. At times, the player will simultaneously control a stationary gun turret along with the ship’s standard fire power. Sometimes you’ll need to wait for a giant gate to open before you can progress. Bosses are also large and always provide a challenge and blasting your way through walls coated in alien eggs is always a satisfying experience.
Enemies, the environmental storytelling, and even the game over screen is morbid and moody. Even the opening cinematic in which a ship gets eaten by a massive space spider generates terrifying horror vibes that is like a nightmare come to life. If you enjoy creepy, gross, and overly dark visual themes, Remote Life is probably the scariest shooter you’ll ever play. The soundtrack also helps generate a sense of dread and emptiness, reminding the player that they are alone, in space, against a throng of horrific space bugs, and no one is coming to save you. Yeah, this is a dark and macabre game especially for a shooter.
The twin-stick shooter controls feels pixel perfect and plays exceedingly well. This well-designed and thoughtful style of play control is also successful due to the fun weapon system. Although you’ll always have access to a basic machine gun, which still feels great and powerful on its own, players can snag limited use weapon bubbles throughout each stage. My only complaint with the fun weapon system is that it can be rough to cycle through the different weapons when in the heat of combat as you need to take your eye off the gameplay and to the tiny symbols in the upper corner of the UI. Perhaps if weapon pick-ups were automatically assigned a different shoulder/trigger button, gameplay could have been more fluid. The power bombs, which are activated with a face button, is also a nice touch and a great desperation attack which makes the player feel like they are constantly in a fair fight even when vastly outnumbered.
With multiple difficulties, this is an approachable shooter. My stream embedded here in this article was played on the easiest difficulty but I still managed to lose all my lives within a couple stages. However, I wanted to start up a new game and try again immediately. This is one of those games that you’ll get better with practice. This, in combination with the great twin-stick controls and weapon system, you won’t mind trying again and again.
As entertaining as this shooter is, it feels a little strange to not have a scoring system or leaderboard system in place. As the player completes each stage, one Achievement is unlocked. Other than this personal reward, there is no incentive to play on higher difficulties as there is no leaderboard to climb or extra unlockables to earn. Sure, a few new ships will be unlocked as the player ventures further into the campaign but all this can be done on the easier settings.
Even with the lack of a scoring/leaderboard system, Remote Life is a shmup that anyone can enjoy, shooter fan or not. This is easily one of the best shooters I have played recently and comes highly recommended.
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By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
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