It’s not often I find myself clicking with a game that punishes me so much for simple mistakes. Often I would fly just too close to an incoming attack and find my ship blowing up in front of me. That, or I would forget to check the room completely before opening up my crafting screen and find myself taking damage from that unchecked side. At times though I would click with the movement and gunplay and find myself preforming near prefect runs of the mazes that unfolded in front of me.
The complex natural of such a game is not one found often these days but Sublevel Zero Redux does just that. Bringing together the old-school feel of a roguelike with a modern design twist to see a classic come back to life on consoles.
Sublevel Zero Redux is a six-degrees-of-freedom shooter in which you take control of a lone ship trying to survive against all odds. You will explore a maze of randomly generated levels as you battle a number of different foes all while trying to find a way home. As the spiritual successor to the 1996 title ‘Descent’, Sublevel Zero Redux is a blast from the past and a nice change of pace in today’s market. It’s all about flying, strafing, hovering and fighting through zero-gravity without losing your way and your sense of which way is up.
Did I also mention that Sublevel Zero Redux is a roguelike? It’s important because for once a game feels like the continuous cycle of death and progress is actually fair and worked out. It’s a small step forward every time, unless you’re lucky, that will in the end help push you towards the final goal. There are also step patterns that start to appear during the game and your soon find yourself understanding the logic behind some, not all, of the games mechanics. This also means that Sublevel Zero Redux is indeed a ‘play for keeps’ game.
Your player ship is all the comfort you have in the world as you explore, fight, scavenge, craft and die. You will have one life for each run and you will need to make the most of it. That is where Sublevel Zero Redux really proves that it is a roguelike game by DNA. With all that in mind though Sublevel Zero Redux does a fantastic job of keeping you in the game and giving you time to breath in between all the stressful and intense movements.
It’s a balance that aids the game in the best way given the player the best of each aspect in slots that work to give the play time to enjoy everything Sublevel Zero Redux has to offer.
Where the game stands up at its best however is in the weapon choice that is available to you. There are a number of different types of weapons such as blasters, dart missiles, shotguns and more. Each with their own stats meaning you will be continuously swapping out weapons, ship hulls and engines to keep your ship in the best shape you can. I personally found myself going for some form of shotgun when possible to ensure that in smaller areas I could do massive damage. Being able to carry two guns and two types of missiles at any time though means this would always be backed up with some form of long ranged blaster.
It might seem confusing and overwhelming at first having to manage the different elements of your ship. Knowing full well that death means you lose it all but it helps to build up the hype you will feel throughout playing Sublevel Zero Redux. This continuous even with the credits and health packs. Every resource is precious, limited and beyond variable. It is up to you to preform accordingly to ensure you get the most out of everything you encounter to make the most of your runs. With each run you will come to understand how to tackle the number of challenges you will face and how best to build your ship. Be it on your first run or many more after that, you will find how to adapt to each situation.
Sublevel Zero Level’s style is an interesting one that mixes low poly artwork with brightly coloured particle effects and pixel art textures. It sounds odd at first but when you see it in motion it is a strong art style for the game. The words ‘in motion’ are key there because you will spend most of your time in Sublevel Zero Redux flying around, often at high speed, engaging in firefights full of lasers. The soundtrack in Sublevel Zero Redux is also a key selling point of the product. It fits the style of the game and the gameplay. Though I would of personally like it to pick up the tempo during fights and be a bit more procedural. Regardless, the music fits and helps drive the hype and enjoyment of Sublevel Zero Redux.
Sublevel Zero Redux is a game that is worth your time and should peak your interest because it has plenty to offer. It’s a game with a lot of charm and style that captures the six-degrees-of-freedom gameplay perfectly. There are areas that the game could see some improvements, such as in the crafting but as a hold Sublevel Zero is a solid game. If you are not a fan of roguelike games however I would suggest taking a pass on it though as the game truly does embrace the feel of being a roguelike. Thankfully though you can fly into walls without taking any damage which is a plus because that will happen a lot.
Sublevel Zero Redux is a good blast from the past that will give you plenty of hours of fun. So long as you dare to take up the gauntlet that it throws down.
This review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy of the product provided by the publisher.