STAFF REVIEW of Riddled Corpses EX (Xbox One)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018.
by Brent Roberts

Riddled Corpses EX Box art I'll say it: I love me some twin stick shooter action on Xbox. Over the years I think it's a genre that doesn't get a lot of attention, but after playing Riddled Corpses EX by COWCAT, I don't think that is going to be an issue anymore. Priced on sale for $10.79 (while the sale lasts) I have to say that this game took me by complete surprise. So much so that it almost caused me to be out of gaming commission, but more about that later. For now, though, let's dive into Riddled Corpses EX and you can see just why this game is worth every penny.

On the surface this game appears to be a classic 8/16bit hybrid game visually. Apparently, the story behind it revolves around a mad scientist (why can't there ever be any "good" mad scientists?) who attempts an experiment, and low and behold it fails. Actually, it didn't just fail though, this disaster of an experiment actually manages to resurrect an ancient sleeping demon of power who has the ability to summon his army of undead and a monstrous horde. What are the odds?

It's up to you and your ever-growing team of fighters to band together and not only stop the zombie apocalypse, but save all humanity as well. While the story is fairly straight forward, the real hook comes from the gameplay which is so addictive it may as well be deemed a narcotic.

You start off by selecting characters to play as, and you check them out you will see how each one will carry with them a special ability. Well, all apart from the first character who is all around useless and doesn't have a special ability. You will see how your characters are rated with many, many stats, that supposedly mean many, many things, and range from very high power but slow shooting and moving rate, to being lightning fast but barely doing any damage.

You'll pass on the first character, and instead you'll find yourself selecting others that come with abilities such as magnetism, 2x gold, and so forth. Gold will become your lifeblood as it costs you 9999 gold to unlock characters, as well as any turrets and additional machine guns. Normally on a given run you can expect to get about 1500(ish) amount of gold (if you use a 2x gold character), so welcome to the grind. You will end up playing levels over and over and over again because of two reasons: 1) you'll be terrible because your character is so weak, and 2) Riddled Corpses EX is ridiculously challenging with enemies and projectiles flying at you in 60fps glory.

To solve this inevitable problem, you will start leveling up your characters (which also takes a TON gold) and upgrading your machine guns (which takes A LOT of gold) but, as I pointed out above, when your take of gold is so low you have no choice but to grind and grind and grind. I chose to use a character that offered 2x gold instead of magnetism, so while I had to walk to the gold instead of it automatically coming to me, I got twice the gold in the end. I think I played the 1st level well over 50 times just to try and gain some form of strength to tackle the 2nd stage. I was grinding away so much that my right thumb actually became swollen, but that was after 8 hours straight playing, because this game is so addictive. Once you level up your three powered characters to level 20 you will unlock the last character (for purchase of 9999 gold) who has all the abilities of the previous characters.

Now, the overworld layout is designed in a traditional Ghosts n' Goblins fashion, as it consists of six areas which range in difficulty by increasing the number of enemies and projectiles on the screen at the same time. Things can get overwhelming very quickly, so you can utilize special power-ups, such as a stopwatch by pressing the Right Bumper that freezes everything on the screen for a limited amount of time, or you can use a group of dynamite sticks with Left Bumper that effectively clears your screen of enemies. The B button is used to deploy your turret while your Left Stick is used to move your character and the Right is to fire your weapon. This simplicity is yet another reason for the addictive quality of the game. You don't have to be worried about button pushes at the correct moment the frame of animation stops or split-second timing that leads to hours of frustration. Just pick up the controller and start killing everything you see.

Each of the levels are unique in the enemies spawned but also the atmosphere. You start your adventure in a city themed environment but transition into deserts and even underground laboratories. The enemies don't really change until you get to the last two stages when the game literally seems like it gives up and just throws everything you've experienced before from the previous level, just 100 times more of them. That's not to say though that this game has committed some graphical injustice because it hasn't.

All the enemies and levels are done in a beautiful retro 8/16-bit hybrid mashup of classic styles and are accompanied by a fantastic synth soundtrack straight from the MIDI worlds of yesteryear, but with a modern twist. One nostalgic thing that I found in the settings was you can switch the music back to the original track without all the modern processing and it literally became a movie montage soundtrack to laying waste to everything on screen and it was glorious.

So, even though Riddled Corpses EX seems like a shallow game, the replay value is off the charts and not seen in some big AAA titles that we pay $60+ for today. COWCAT has created a game that is so addictive it should almost be considered a controlled substance and that, for such an indie title, is something almost never seen in the gaming industry. Taking such a simple premise and focusing on just what makes the genre so entertaining, and hour draining, is exactly what COWCAT have done. For $10.79 (limited time sale) you can't find better deals for entertainment in today's world, and even when the price goes up, it will still be worth it.

Some online multiplayer with shared loot would be nice.

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


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