STAFF REVIEW of Steredenn (Xbox One)

Sunday, May 1, 2016.
by Jennifer Dingle

Steredenn Box art First released on Steam in Fall 2015, Steredenn, the 2D shoot ‘em up game developed by indie developer Pixelnest Studio, has recently made its debut on Xbox One. With beautiful pixelated graphics and insane boss battles, this frenetic space shooter offers never ending combat and unforgiving and challenging gameplay with randomly generated environments to enjoy as you try to survive wave after wave of deadly attacks from swarms of space pirates.

With the focus primarily on the gameplay, there really isn’t much of a story for you to follow. You simply play as a lone ship, left to fend for yourself against multiple waves of space pirates spewing projectiles at you as you race through space at a breakneck pace. Constantly moving forward, you cannot turn back, and you must blast your way through each level, avoiding stray asteroids and enemy ships as you make your way to an epic boss battle.

Staying true to the genre, Steredenn is difficult to say the least. Health does not regenerate, there are no save points, and when you die you start right back at the beginning, giving it that old school feel of games of yesteryear. As the waves of enemies and the boss battles grow increasingly difficult, Steredenn quickly becomes very chaotic, although not in a bad way.

Despite struggling right from the get-go, as admittedly I am terrible at shoot ‘em ups, I never felt that Steredenn was unfairly tough, although I must admit I did have a few moments of anger when I was stupidly hit with a stray bullet or crashed into an asteroid. Starting over never felt like a chore, thanks to the randomly generated waves of enemies, environments and weapons. The endless gameplay is rather addictive and with online leaderboards and daily modes, Steredenn offers great replay value.

Much like any shoot ‘em up game, the key to success in Steredenn is dodging the numerous enemies and their relentless attacks. Thankfully the controls in Steredenn are tight and responsive, allowing you to gracefully dodge and maneuver around the ever flowing stream of bullets hurtling towards your ship. Equipped with a basic yet effective blaster to start, you can pick up one of 35 different secondary weapons, randomly dropped within a level. Epic weapons such as a huge laser that disintegrates enemies in seconds, bots that assist you in your fight, and even a huge drill that you can attach the front of your ship to plow through enemies. Some of these weapons seemed ridiculously overpowered, allowing you to breeze through a boss within seconds, while others felt rather ineffective, particularly the melee type weapons. While these melee weapons look really bad ass, they don’t really deal much damage, and I found it tough to come in for a melee attack in the midst of the space pirate’s attack. I found that I much preferred to use a ranged weapon, but that’s just a personal preference.

The highlight of Steredenn are the insane and epic boss battles with 13 different bosses to defeat. Heart pounding and chaotic fights, each boss has their own special bullet attack and you will quickly need to figure out their attack patterns before you meet an untimely death. Should you find yourself unsuccessful during these fights, as I did on numerous occasions, there is an arena mode to play through which is quite helpful to practice against bosses you may have already encountered. And if you’re lucky enough to make it through one of these intense boss battles, you get the opportunity to not only heal your ship before you move on to the next level, but you can pick from five different upgrades to change up your gameplay a bit, such as +20% score or +50% chance that a certain weapon will drop.

Presentation wise, the beautiful pixelated graphics add a nice retro touch to Steredenn, with 20 different environments to play through. While the ships aren’t really much to look at, the backgrounds are spectacularly done with colourful galaxies and twinkling stars to gaze upon as you fight space pirates. That being said, I have a rather minor complaint as there are only a few enemy types in Steredenn, and at times it felt a bit repetitive, as though you are fighting the same bad guys over and over. Even the bosses themselves looked similar, lacking variety in their appearance. In terms of the audio, the heavy metal music filled with strains of electric guitar perfectly accompany the heart racing, chaotic gameplay, creating a fantastic soundtrack for an epic space battle.

If you're a fan of extremely tough shoot ‘em up games that not only has that old school feel, but also look such as some classic pixelated graphics, then look no further then the indie title Steredenn, as it is a must play for fans of the genre. With online leaderboards, endless gameplay, and insane boss battles, it’s addictive and challenging gameplay offers high replay value and will challenge you for a long time. For a mere $12.99, I highly recommend adding Steredenn to your ever growing library of ID@Xbox titles to your Xbox One game collection.

Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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