One of my favorite genres since I was young was the top-view shooter, and it all started with games like Super Smash TV for the SNES. Things have evolved since then, but these games still have no problem getting my attention. The most recent from this genre, is Xenowerk by Pixelbite Games, which is currently available on iOS and hitting Android very soon. At a glance, you’ve got a very straight-forward game without a lot of fluff, there’s 50 playable levels, several guns to unlock, and it’s 100% premium.
- Price: $1.99
- Platform: iOS [Download Link] Android [June 25th]
- Genre: Top-view Shooter
- Developer: Pixelbite Games
Making sure the game operates smoothly and there’s no glitches or lag is a very important part of any top-view shooter. Xenowerk executed that aspect quite well, with very responsive controls, a smooth frame-rate, and minimal UI nuisances. You’ll travel between several different rooms for each mission, these are usually pretty small with a couple of enemies in each one. Although there isn’t a whole lot of variety between rooms, or even between missions, there’s quite a bit of detail on the objects you see.
The camera tries to follow your movement so that it always stays behind, but every so often it can get a little screwed up if you go into a room and then turn around and back out. There’s a small camera reset button to combat this, but in certain situations it isn’t something you’re ready to press immediately, and can cause a bit of frustration. Still, the UI was pretty well done overall.
Visual variety was a bit lacking in my opinion, even though everything was well designed for the most part. I was really hoping for a bigger change between the three different chapters in the game, but instead, you seem to be going through the same rooms and fighting the same enemies. Obviously this isn’t a make or break thing, but it does hold back my rating for the Visual category.
Combat is pretty great overall, the bullets feel impactful, and there’s always a bit of joy when you blow up a huge mutant. You start out with some basic weaponry, a standard assault rifle and a shotgun, but as you complete missions and earn coins you’ll be able to unlock new and more powerful weapons. There are different types of primary assault weapons with different fire rates and unique aspects, and a variety of different secondary weapons such as snipers, rockets, and different shotguns.
It doesn’t necessarily matter what weapons you use from mission to mission, as you’re fighting the same mutants pretty much throughout the game. Your weapons do improve through level ups, a maximum of 10 per weapon. Completing the game isn’t much of a challenge, since you get a couple of revives for each mission, and the majority of the missions aren’t very long themselves. The missions aren’t entirely linear, but it’s pretty easy to navigate — especially when you’ve got a directional arrow giving you an idea of where to go.
One interesting aspect of the Gameplay is that you never need to reload your weapons, instead, they’ll overheat if you spam fire too much. It’s pretty easy to avoid by swapping to your secondary, but if you do overheat the weapon becomes useless for a few seconds. You’ve also got a few different abilities (heal, freeze enemies, etc), which required you to power up a bit by killing mutants before being able to use them.
Repetitive but fun
I have to say I enjoy playing Xenowerk, but it does get pretty repetitive after a short while. As I mentioned earlier, the missions don’t differentiate much visually from the beginning to the end, and even the mutants you encounter are all pretty much the same. Each mission of the 50 missions have specific objectives, but there’s only a few different objective types which get re-played on different missions throughout the campaign. These included activating a computer, destroying mutant pods, and killing everything in sight.
A bit more variety really would have gone a long way, as the game really is a lot of fun, but I can only enjoy doing what feels like the exact same thing for so long. Weapon/Armor upgrades do their best to keep things interesting, but they become more scarce as you progress through the game, making it hard to stay fully entertained. Xenowerk is a couple hours of top-view shoot ’em up fun at best, which isn’t a bad thing.
Xenowerk isn’t necessarily expensive, with just a $2 price-tag, and I’d say the price to content ratio is justified. There is an IAP option, which is disappointing, but it simply allows you to buy coins at a rate of $1 for 10K, $2 for 30K, and $4 for 100K. Although this doesn’t directly affect anyone who doesn’t want to spend money, it always irks me a little bit when a premium game has IAPs. I’d rather see it be freemium if IAPs are going to be offered at all, but there are other games which are much bigger offenders — so I won’t judge Xenowerk on this too harshly.
Verdict – 3.6/5
If you really enjoy these types of games, Xenowerk is a solid top-view shooter to add to your library. Although it’s not necessarily anything to write home about, it does offer some very smooth Gameplay with a decent amount of content. The content may not be 100% unique going from stage to stage, but for a $2 game it’s fair — not too generous, not too stingy. Overall, a good pick-up for those looking for a fast paced shooter to sink a few hours into.