The games industry is no stranger to the concept of splicing two varying types of genre together, and while some marriages of structure are less than favourable (where did it all go wrong with Resident Evil, Capcom?) that doesn't mean that the concept always results in disaster: Velocity 2X is one such example that proves it.
In fact, Velocity doesn’t just meld two concepts together almost flawlessly, it also breathes new life into two very retro types of gameplay that haven’t been given the TLC they deserve in recent years. Part third-person SHMUP, (think Space Invaders or Lightning Fighter but way, way more advanced) part platformer, Velocity has managed to make both halves fit seamlessly together.
Waking up as the bleary-eyed Kai, you find yourself in a cosy little test tube surrounded by the Vokh, an alien race that has decided to experiment on your pretty face while you’ve been comatose. The extraterrestrials have opted to have a bit of fun by sticking cybernetic implants on to their new pet, and if you hadn’t realised already, you’ve fallen foul to the standard sci fi trope of accidentally falling through a black hole, ending up on the other side of space.
Obviously you escape your captors though, and with the help of some friendly aliens (they do exist) you’re off to find a way home with a brand-spanking new ship courtesy of the Vokh (you steal it, you dirty thief). There are two big factors you should know before starting Velocity though: one is that its structure can be slightly jarring in terms of how you control Kai and her ship, and the other is that this awkward transition can mean controls take a while to get used to. Not a problem if the two are separate, but noticeable when the scrolling shooter and platforming sections blend into each other.
The 50 story stages on offer - which are all interspersed with some neat, statically presented cutscenes - take on the form of increasingly difficult puzzles. That word isn’t used in the traditional sense though: you still need to kill enemies and platform your way to victory, you just have to destroy colour-coded, sequential locks to progress through each stage. These locks aren’t easily found: some are hidden in areas that can only be teleported to, while others are hidden internally, which is where you need to disembark your ship and continue on foot.
Both segments are excellent, and FuturLab deserves all the praise given to them for their excellent and varied level designs that become increasingly - but not unfairly - difficult. To add in a little flavour to the mix, each stage is given a small tag that reveals its designated type. For example, some levels prompt you to get through them as fast as possible, while others ask that you rescue as many survivors and collect as many crystals as possible for the purposes of charging your ship and liberating slaves from the Vokh.
These brandings can feel largely superficial at times due to the fact that every stage rewards the swift completion of all the above tasks, and while several stages are, for example, speed orientated, you won’t be able to restrain yourself from trying to beat every stage as fast as possible. Hell, the game borderline promotes that you do that by telling you that your ships boost function and Kai’s sprint ability are the most important mechanics in the game.
In terms of aesthetics and audio competence, the former is good, but the latter is better. While the art style of both the characters and the stages have an eye-pleasing brushstroke style to them, some of the levels look rather bland, an issue more than likely compounded by the fact that each environment is reused for around 10 separate stages a piece.
But these are minor criticisms; Velocity 2X is an excellent digital title that delivers more than just a little substance for its modest price. While certain aspects could do with some slight refinements, i.e. some iffy controls and repetitive stages, the title as a whole is leagues better than most games that claim to be as innovative as Velocity. It doesn’t break new ground, but it’s a tremendous effort on the part of FuturLab. Definitely one to try.
Velocity 2X (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Velocity 2X is an excellent digital title that delivers more than just a little substance for its modest price. While certain aspects could do with some slight refinements, i.e. some iffy controls and repetitive stages, the title as a whole is leagues better than most titles that claim to be as innovative as Velocity.