Released late November, In Extremis DX is a SHMUP remake of the 2016 In Extremis, promised as a shoot’em up that aims to bring an engaging and fun experience to the player, let’s take a closer look.
When you first start up In Extremis DX, it’s a pretty standard affair, a short tutorial explains your movement, and the shooting mechanics giving you two “elements” which each have a primary fire (tapping) and a secondary fire (holding) the relevant button.
Initially you’ll have a simple machine gun with a wide spread, which narrows to a more confined area when held, followed by a mine that floats forward then explodes with a second tap, as you progress even with failed runs, you’ll gain XP and earn levels which unlock more weapons as well as additional continues, you can also opt to increase available lives (hits) via the options menu.
There’s also 3 difficulty levels but most will want to start on “Quest” the easier setting, because that’s tough enough.
The core Story is, you’re sat on earth, tired, so naturally you whip out your space ship and head to the edge of the universe.
It’s a shallow narrative, which leads to a completely random mix of levels, with some quite well done and others just feel like a visual and audible mess.
One instance is a level with giant floating musical instruments as enemies, another smiley faces and apples, and then there’s one with a water theme, various jellyfish and starfish, with another that feels more like a traditional Commodore 64 style Shoot’em up.
It’s random at the best of times, but I would have preferred something more solid, rather than feeling like a dev had a pot-luck draw of ideas that where then thrown into the game.
Each level does throw a boss fight or two at the end, (which equally are devoid of any theme) but there’s no link to the overarching story, other than “The Chaos of the Universe”.
Graphically it’s as mixed as you’d imagine, there’s nothing beyond what you’d expect from a 2016 shoot’em up, and 6 years later, you’d think there’d be a little more than a higher refresh rate.
There’s also a mix of backgrounds which often hinder your vision, with scribbles and objects making projectiles and enemies a little harder to spot than they should be.
Over the years I’ve played many, many shoot’em ups, and it’s often noted how detailed they can be without interfering with gameplay, so it’s disappointing when the random presentation gets in the way of the enjoyment.
There’s certainly some positives, fans of bullet-hell shoot’em ups will know what to expect, and while the selection of only 10 levels is going to leave you feeling like you’ve seen everything within a few hours, there’s still some weapons to unlock and the tougher difficulties which will keep purists playing for much longer.
Unfortunately, though, I hit the 90-minute mark, and it was all feeling repetitive and too much like a chore.
This was added to the fact I never managed to complete a run.
Not through an obvious lack of skill, (although that’s always a possibility) I’d managed to reach the final boss (the little guy, not the 1st big boss) and while you naturally expect to get hit a few times, upon losing a life, there’s no option to continue, instead I got the following error which crashed the game to dashboard.
It’s quite literally a gamebreaking bug that any QA testing has missed, so while I hope the developers resolve the problem swiftly, it’s disappointing for a game to release in this state, and still be the same almost 3 weeks later.
There’s certainly a few good levels, which use dynamic music well and others with a good consistent theme, but for me, too many felt like a random mash’up to be enjoyable.
At only £4.19 it’s decent value, but the vast majority of people aren’t going to go much beyond the 2 hour mark.
If you’re a big fan of bullet-hell, shoot’em ups, then maybe this is the game for you, but if like me, you just enjoy the occasional blast, then there’s far better examples of the genre available.
In Extremis DX, attempts to mix art and video games, but falls short with a style that only artists find artistic, and a game that’s easily beaten by dozens more in the genre.
In Extremis DX