Paranautical Activity (XB1) Review

Ken McKown

Under the sea.

The Xbox One has seen its fair share of rogue-like first-person shooters. From Tower of Guns to Ziggurat, I have found myself overflowing with twitch shooters that focus on multiple runs rather than traditional progress. Paranautical Activity is yet another one of these shooters, and it doesn’t do much to separate itself from the pack outside of the cool voxel visuals. That’s about it though, as the trek through levels wore out its welcome long before the game had its hooks in me.

For those unfamiliar with the setup of these types of games, Paranautical Activity is a first-person shooter in the most basic sense. Players blast through levels, mowing down whatever is in front of them to open the door to the next room. When they die, it is game over, start back at the beginning. The twist is that upgrades are acquired over time, oh and every level is procedurally generated, meaning no two runs are the same.

paranauticalactivity_03

MSRP: $9.99
Platforms: XB1, Wii U, PC, Vita
Price I’d Pay: $4.99

Sadly, like with most shooters of this type, the levels don’t feel very unique. Lots of my runs consisted of the same boring structure, and a handful of familiar enemies. Sometimes a boss would appear earlier, but that just meant dying and heading back to the beginning. Also the game doesn’t do a good job of explaining how things work. It took me four or five runs before I realized what the upgrades actually meant.

The menus are also extremely unfriendly. Moving a cursor around like a mouse with an analog stick is not my idea of intuitive, especially when it is only for certain things. This describes a large chunk of the game; it just feels haphazard and poorly put together.

As the name implies, the enemies in the game are paranormal versions of aquatic creatures. Combined with its visual style, this is by far the most interesting aspect of the game. Blasting down gigantic dead whales and watching them explode into blocks is satisfying, I just wish there was more to the game to make it worth doing time and time again.

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I really enjoyed the visual style of the game. Everything has a cool, blocky appearance, and the blistering frame rate really helps. The levels are a bit drab and uninspired, and everything feels a bit dark most of the time, but for the most part it is an enjoyable game to look at.

I wanted to love Paranautical Activity a lot more than I did. I actually got addicted to Ziggurat and other titles using the same premise, at least for more than a handful of runs. Sadly, this title doesn’t bring anything new to the table, nor does it set itself apart outside of the visuals. The levels are boring and the enemies and shooting are not satisfying enough to keep it going.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • Voxel art style
  • Fast-paced game play

Bad

  • Boring design
  • Frustrating progression
  • Just not that interesting most of the time
5

Mediocre

Ken McKown
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.
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