Fission Superstar X is a game that immediately grabs attention. The vibrant art style is fun to look at, and the music is joyfully ‘Arch’, reinforcing the evil nature of the game’s mission and objective. So with such a fantastic presentation front and center, is the game shaping to match its bark with its bite? Or will it merely be good from far, but far from good?
Fission Superstar X puts the player in the driving seat of a spaceship with one goal: deliver an atomic bomb to an unlucky planet a good distance away. The journey is broken up into stages of combative flight interlinked with stops along the way ranging from locations for recruitment to shipyards for upgrades. Currency is accrued throughout to be spent at said stops, and the choice of stop will be down to the player (and random generation in the form of four choices) at the end of each stage. These choices will impact the linear progress of the flight, as some will advance you further towards your objective, while others will set you back.
In many ways, this is similar to the wildly successful FTL, and it will be a comparison Fission Superstar X will be unable to avoid so I will address it head on here. Both games have a similar structure in surface level progression, however, they diverge in their minute-to-minute gameplay. Fission Superstar X is real-time combat in a side-scrolling fashion, using a simple control scheme consisting of the W, A, S, D keys to move vertically and horizontally, and the mouse aiming weaponry and shields towards the cursor. All simple and straightforward, but unfortunately at a laborious rate in the preview.
This isn’t a bullet hell game demanding quick reflexes, instead, the ship moves at a mundanely slow pace requiring lateral positioning to engage enemies. Shooting diagonally isn’t much of an option when turrets can only fire in a direction free from obstruction, forcing you to drift your ship alongside the enemy.
I’m not sure if the ship is one of many you can unlock, but the size of it takes up an uncomfortable amount of the screen, almost like you have accidentally zoomed in. With so much retail taken up by the player, there wasn’t much room left for enemies. Some enemies are designed with this in mind and apply damage through direct contact, but those equipped with ranged weaponry have to shuffle around awkwardly to resemble some common sense and keep their ships at a distance.
Having to awkwardly navigate around each other makes the game awkward and honestly a bit dull. A bit more pace and a larger field of battle would go a long way here, so hopefully, progression can alleviate these issues.
Outside of combat, Fission Superstar X does a great job of offering variety through its cast of characters recruitable and upgrades available. Crew members will come with a variety of strengths that will see one being more accurate, to another providing more armor.
Getting a full crew of four and pumping their stats at the end of each stage also helps keep the sense of progression flowing (and more importantly opens up turrets on other surfaces of the ship). All of this is presented in its very distinct and vibrant art style, which really cannot be understated. It may not provide massive amounts of animation, but the style stays strong at every stage of the game.
There is a lot of potential here, but sadly not much is evident in the preview. The gameplay is too slow to excite, but also real-time, meaning the repetitiveness becomes really obvious, real quick. Considering the combat is the majority of the game, this is likely to put many off. If the pace picks up in the later levels, then something will need to be addressed in the early game, because sadly I had no desire to return to it with the early game being as slow as it currently is.
For those of you with a love for the stylish, Fission Superstar X is definitely a game to keep an eye on. It is a joy to view and a treat to listen to, but the act of playing it may not be as engaging as it suggests.