Since Geometry Wars made the Twin-stick shooters (Left stick to move your ship and Right to fire in any direction) popular, there has been a slew of these types of top down shooters, though none really reaching that Geometry Wars popularity or success.
Premium Agency is the developer of this new title called Death By Cube and it is backed and published by Square Enix. Much like other games in this genre, the objective is to strategically defeat your enemies whilst staying alive, but of course every game has their own twists and adds something new to be fresh and unique.
The unique take with Death By Cube is that you are trying to destroy an army of cube shaped enemies that are filled with red oil on a collection of different maps with a numerous amount of weapons and strategies.
Surprisingly enough, there actually is a story to this game unlike many others that simply want you to progress levels or gain high scores. You are LEO; a robot that is awakened and realize that youve list your memory. The only instinct you have when awoken is that you must reboot the robot SELSIE to hopefully gather your memories back of what has happened.
This is LEOs mission and sets forth only to find that the world has been filled with a large army of aggressive enemy robots trying to destroy you. Its up to you to press on and find out what happened all while spilling each cubed robots red oil all over the place.
You control LEO just like any other Twin-stick shooter with the Left stick moving your robot and the Right shooting in whatever direction you point to. Every enemy is a cube or slight variant there of and there will be a barrage of them coming out for you. Some enemies dont pose much threat, then there are other very small ones that swarm and surround you; others will even shoot back at you. Much like Geometry Wars, each different enemy has its own style of offence and defense. The bosses are quite surprisingly large and will require some finesse to defeat as well.
Instead of simply passing a level and moving on, you are graded and rewarded coins based on your skill and play style. Do better to earn enough coins which are then used to unlock new levels and upgrades. The issue with this system is that an average play wont always gain you enough coins to be progressively moving on; so there will be some levels that you will have to replay quite a few times just to gain enough coins to move on to the new level. If you spend cash on an upgrade, itll take even longer for you to collect the required amount of coins to move to the next level. Eventually youll try and avoid upgrades so that you arent forced to replay levels over and over for a small account of coins, so you can see where the repetition and annoyance sets in trying to balance upgrades vs. progression.
Death By Cube also incorporates a couple different mechanics that do make it feel fresh and interesting. Using Left Trigger will cause LEO to dash very quickly in the direction the Left stick is pointing. Doing this will cause enemies in close vicinity to become temporarily confused and stunned for a minute and even stop shooting. Thus enemies become easier targets to shoot or you can get away and regroup away from them for a short time.
If you hold down the Right Trigger you will have a shield around you for a few seconds and when this is activated you will catch any bullets or lasers shot at you. Letting go and aiming with the Right stick will reflect and shoot these caught bullets back at your enemies. This technique is a necessity later on to simply survive, but the trick is that you cant hold the shield up for more than a few seconds at a time or else you will blow up.
As you kill more enemies with style and techniques like these, enemies will drop items that can be picked up to boost your offence (like double shot) and defense.
There are multiple upgraded robots you can purchase with your precious coins should you want more offense, defense, speed or other attributes; though I like the homing shots. It makes it a little more interesting to try and complete a level with a style of robot you wouldnt normally play.
As of this time, I was unable to get any multiplayer matches in but Square Enix has listed the game as having up to 8 players with online versus and co-op matches over Xbox Live or locally.
The difficulty starts off pretty steep early on so I wouldnt be surprised if it turns some people off, but its what weve come to expect from Square; a compelling challenge.
Its an interesting take on the Twin-stick shooter genre and while the story really isnt anything special or engrossing, at least it has one unlike the majority of others.
At 800 MS points, its completely worth it if you are a fan of Geometry Wars or anything like it and with all the unlockables and medals, youll be playing for awhile. Just remember, its not blood, its red oil!