Monday 16 October 2023

Replikator Review (Switch)

In the world of the roguelike the Switch is particularly well stocked. However, most of these games in recent times have been of the platform/Metroidvania mould. Enter the Gungeon, is of course one of the yard sticks of the top down shooter variety of roguelike but there is still plenty of room for more entrants in the arena. One you may well have overlooked is Replikator, an indie blaster that is very much in the hardcore category of the genre.

Players take the role of one of a handful of galactic mercenaries who are tasked with boarding a huge scientific complex where a project has gone wild and taken over. The different characters come with their own stats in areas such as speed and health and all have unique special skills. There is of course a wealth of areas to continually upgrade and enhance ranging from ammo and energy to how often your onboard equipment and weapon tables produce new items. There’s so much in fact that we can only imagine how many runs you would have to complete to get everything to top level.

In order to upgrade you need to gather data cubes which can be picked up from secret rooms or after defeating tougher enemies. There’s also a more traditional coin type currency to collect which can used to operate things such as med stations and ammo dispensers. Batteries can also be picked up to operate machinery and access cards which open certain doors. What we’re saying is there’s a lot to collect.

Away from personal upgrades you can pick up blueprints for weapons and other enhancements. The mass of upgrades and unlocks will likely overwhelm new players or those not familiar with the genre and it took us a good few hours to even begin to understand what was going on and make any sort of progress past the first stage.

One issue is that with everything that the game has going on it really needed a better way of explaining how things work. There is a training section which goes over the controls but everything else is very much left up to you to discover for better or for worse and there’s a lot to think about. Replikator runs with a dual stick shooting mechanic with players able to move between two weapons at a time. You also have a shock attack which is a low damage melee strike mainly used for breaking boxes. From a defensive point of view you can dash which also allows you to move through some ground based traps and other gun fire. There’s a host of other gadgets and tricks going on as well which are simply too extensive to list here.

Enemies take the form of robots and androids and come at you in every form imaginable. Some fly, some roll, some shoot, some explode and some are really damn big. Even in the early stages enemy variety is good with each new stage adding more and more creations to dispatch. Despite the mechanical carnage the aim of each level is actually to find a key which opens the terminal allowing progression to the next stage. Each exit allows the player to move to one of three new stages, each offering a different bonus. There is then a boss battle every few stages. Another thing to be aware of is that stages can be huge, so this isn’t a speed running approach to the genre.

Overall, Replikator is a bit rough around the edges but if you can stick with it then it becomes an incredibly deep and satisfying game. We certainly wouldn’t recommend it to someone as an entry point for this sort of game and you are going to need a solid amount of patience and determination to get the best out of it. Once you’ve broken through the initial barriers though this about as addictive and rewarding as they come. If you are a fan of the genre don’t overlook it.

Overall 8/10

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