They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. If that is true, then the former members of Bizarre Creations must be very flattered.
Tachyon Project is a dual-stick shooter from Eclipse Games, and one that bears an uncanny resemblance to Geometry Wars. Which I guess shouldn’t be a bad thing; if you are going to make a game in that genre, why not look at its very best entries.
At least Eclipse Games have tried to go a little further with the concept by adding in a story, new game mechanics, and a fully customisable ship. However, Tachyon Project is not without its flaws, and these stop it from being anything more than average.
Multiplayer: Two Player Co-Op
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
The inclusion of a story is a noble effort, but it’s generic and clichéd. It involves two hackers, who have created the ultimate computer intrusion program. Upon sending it out on a mission, the hackers get discovered, raided and then go missing. The player takes control of the hacking program, called Ada, who finds herself out in the big wide web, all alone. She is driven to find out what happened to her creators, and as such must navigate all manner of computer systems to find the truth. The story plays out via still images and text, but there are a few issues. Firstly, this part of the game was clearly missed by QA, as I found several spelling and grammar mistakes. I also came across a bug that would occasionally cut out the music during these cut scenes – something that can hopefully be addressed in a patch later down the line.
Each level is comprised of varying stages, each requiring a specific condition to met before allowing progress. These range from staying alive for a set number of minutes, to destroying a set number of enemies. It does add a little variety to each stage, but never really deviates from this structure. Health is also managed via a timer. Instead of a standard health bar, each time Ada takes damage it reduces the level timer buy a few seconds. Get hit enough and its game over. I also found that as I got further in, the game ramped up the difficulty; but not through level design, but by simply throwing more enemies at me. This left me feeling frustrated and hopeless at times. It never made me feel like I was getting better at the game, I just felt I was getting lucky.
The design of Tacyhon Project is exactly as you would imagine a Geometry Wars clone to look and feel like. Neon graphics and a head busting electro-synth soundtrack, a soundtrack that quickly got on my nerves, I might add. But it does differ in some ways. Firstly, there is the ship customisation options. Before each mission I was allowed to trick out Ada with different weapons and bombs. At the start there is very little choice, but after completing certain challenges and levels, more options opened up to me. Ada can be kitted out in six different types of weapon, nine types of bomb (of which you can have two equipped), along with two different perks. Switching these out helps, especially when I found a particular stage too difficult.
One thing Tachyon Project isn’t short on is content. As well as the story mode, there is also a new game + option, along with 10 challenge modes, each with their own rule sets. This adds a layer of replay value to the game, and enough reason to keep going back should you so wish.
The one thing Tachyon Project has going for it is its price. $10 isn’t that so much to pay for a game that has a decent amount of content in it. But having played many dual-stick shooters in the past, there is nothing really here that stands out as excellent. Just average.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.