It’s not hard going off the title alone to confuse this game with a remake / remaster, but it’s actually a follow up to the Windows Phone shooter known as GRIDD. This time however, the game has you taking on the roll of a hacking program as you set off into a vast network infrastructure to uncover its mystery and secrets. The game plays out as a 3D rail shooter that’s not so dissimilar to the original StarFox, being that you’re constantly in forward movement whilst blasting enemies and dodging objects that want to ruin your day. That’s about as interesting as the plot gets, and let’s face it, games from this genre tend to lean more heavily on intriguing gameplay than anything else, but does GRIDD: Retroenhanced even dish that out? Sadly not.
Whilst the game does offer up some fast paced and truly exciting moments throughout the experience, there’s never really much of an evolution when it comes to gameplay alone. Controls are very simplistic to gel with, in fact you really only need to worry about your analog movement and your fire button. It’s great for those that are new to the genre, but for those that enjoy the genre, there isn’t much here that hasn’t already been done elsewhere, often better too.
There’s no denying that the game is challenging, and it’s certainly not something that even the most seasoned of players will fly through in a single run. As you make your way through the pre-determined path, you’ll be nabbing powerups and collecting scraps that fallen foes leave behind. These scraps will add to your multiplier, which will boost your overall score for each fragment picked up. The kicker here is that the enemies in Gridd Retroenhanced are a little more vicious than those of your traditional rail shooting variety. Not only do the enemies here have their own devastating abilities, but many of them can deflect your own shots back at you, which makes the gameplay pretty frantic.
Boss battles on the other hand are much more structured, but equally as tough. I dare say these encounters were possibly the highlight of my time with GRIDD: Retroenhanced. They’re not totally unique, and again, the way that these bosses function are not unlike anything we’ve seen before, but they do indeed help control the pace of the game. One thing that makes the game so hard is that you only begin with a single life, and if you lose that, you’re way back at square one. To help counter this, you can participate in a mini-game to try and nab an extra life. You’ll occasionally come across a firewall that can be hacked, and once you’ve found your way into a firewall, you can collect specific numbers to activate a code that will dispense data. If you manage to collect this data without running out of attempts, you’ll be awarded with extra lives for your hard work.
GRIDD: Retroenhanced doesn’t last all too long once you understand both the controls and the aim of the game, but it does offer up an Endless Mode once you have nuked the somewhat thirty minute Arcade Mode. This is exactly when the cracks begin to surface in this otherwise well crafted shooter. Endless Mode is in place to help with the longevity of the game, which counters the short but sweet Arcade Mode. Unfortunately, Endless Mode just feels like a mess. Unlike the Arcade Mode, this mode comes with procedural generation, which means that each play-through will differ from the last.
The problem here is that your fun is constantly fluctuating due to some runs offering nothing but weak enemies for great lengths of time, whereas other runs will subsequently throw you straight at the mercy of a boss. I couldn’t help but feel as though the developers should have injected more structure on this front, rather than luck of draw. I cant say that I found much appeal in taking to a mode that frustrated me more than enticed me. What I will say about GRIDD: Retroenhanced is that it has some brilliant 1980s cyberpunk visuals, with a decent and catchy soundtrack to go along with. In any case, this is definitely a game I would think carefully about before investing in, regardless as to whether you’re new to the genre or not, it’s just a mixed bag.
GRIDD: Retroenhanced may look like a great game on the face of it, thanks to the welcoming visuals and the solid soundtrack, but it’s hardly the best that the genre has to offer. The Arcade Mode lasts less than one hour once you work out how to play and react, and the Endless Mode that’s unlocked post-completion just doesn’t offer up much fun. The boss battles and the mini-games are engaging enough and keep the game feeling well paced, but that’s not enough to sell this game on those merits alone, nor does it make up for what else is on offer. If you’re a die-hard fan of the formula, you may be able to pull more from this than I could, but as it stands, the Endless Mode (which is where the longevity sits) is just too frustrating to enjoy.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.