It’s no surprise that the trailer for Velocity Ultra piqued my interests. Those who know me would know that I am into bullet-hells, so when I saw what looked like a mix of Jamestown and Portal, I jumped to it immediately, eager to try it out.
Velocity Ultra is a 2D bullet-hell in which you control the only Quarp Jet in the galaxy; a ship that is able to teleport around with ease. With this ship and its abilities, you are tasked with the job of rescuing survivors from a black hole.
The screen scrolls automatically, although you can make it scroll faster, meaning you also go faster, but this could result in crashing into a wall easily. At first you only have to worry about moving and boosting, but then they introduce teleportation which is required to finish the levels. Then the Bomb is introduced, which is used to attack to the side, then the Telepod is brought in. You drop the Telepod at a certain point, then you can use the map screen to teleport to it at any time, which is vital in the later levels.
There are three factors which you are rated on: speed, survivors and score. The better you do in those areas, the more XP you get, which is required to unlock more levels. This means you can’t (as I did try) just boost through the levels completely dismissing survivors. Mainly because you won’t get enough XP to unlock more levels, but also because the game physically doesn't let you finish a level without saving a set amount of survivors.
As you get further into the game, more world objects are introduced as well such as caged survivors which must be shot before you can rescue the survivors within. There are also security fields with switches which must be shot/bombed in a set order to remove and save the survivors. There’s also the increase of enemies such as faster and weaker enemies, and the introduction of turrets
The game offers a very nice learning curve, and doesn’t thrust all of the mechanics and enemies onto the player immediately. It offers a good ten levels before lightly introducing the next mechanic. Meaning you can get used to the ship before learning more about it, which is important with a game that requires a lot of control.
There are three different types of levels you will go through. The first is Search and Rescue where there are a large number of survivors to rescue. Next is Hostile Threat in which there are a large number of enemies that you will encounter in the level, with a minimal amount of survivors. Lastly there is Critical Urgency which tasks you with a very small amount of time to reach the end, meaning you must boost all the way through, requiring you to have fast teleportation and shooting reactions. There are little survivors and enemies in Critical Urgency levels.
The soundtrack deserves applause, with different themes for the different types of levels. Songs that let off hope for the Search and Rescue missions, more intense themes for the Hostile Threat levels and fast paced tracks for Critical Urgency. The soundtrack makes the game a lot more fun to play as great, fitting music always does.
There are Firepower upgrades as well that can be obtained in certain levels. For instance, you can upgrade your bombs to turn into a massive laser beam. These only last a small while, but can be refilled by defeating a wave of enemies. If you use all of the energy for the upgrade, it will vanish, meaning you will need to find the upgrade again. In the later games, survivors you rescue can upgrade your laser shot permanently, which is a much required boost to get through the subsequent levels.
Overall, Velocity Ultra is a pretty good game. It offers nice mechanics and allows you to learn them at a good, steady pace. However, despite having 50 levels, they are over rather quickly. It’s a good time killer, but not one that will last more than a day or two.