Project Root was developed by OPQAM and published by Reverb Publishing on Xbox One. It will release on April 28, 2015 for $9.99. A copy was provided by Reverb Publishing for review purposes.
Shoot-em-ups are one of my favorite pastimes. There is an odd sense of satisfaction from seeing bullets fly by your ship (or equal equivalent) while shooting your own back and trying to survive. Failure occurs often, there is a thrill in seeing how long you’ll last before dying. In the old days, you’d coin feed an arcade machine until you (eventually) beat it. Nowadays, most shmups have reached niche status and rarely see support in the retail market. For every Deathsmiles or Akai Katana that sees a localization, there is another title like Eschatos and Ginga Force that fans hope lucks out with a region-free Japanese release. Occasionally, we saw XBLA shmup releases such as Triggerheart Exelica and Guwange, which are compact experiences. Project Root is one of the first shmups to reach the Xbox One and try something different: free roaming. As a fan of the genre and sub-genres like bullet hells, I was excited to try it.
Project Root can be fun. It really can be. However, the amount of time and effort to create that opportunity far exceeds the benefit. The game relies heavily on the player upgrading their ship to succeed, yet the experience system to level up for upgrades is atrocious. A majority of your experience will come from a first-time level completion bonus. If you can’t beat a level, you’re in for a miserable time. As is typical for progression systems, the other way to gain XP is to gradually fill the experience bar by killing enemies. The rate of gain, however, is slow, especially on the first few levels where you need it most. It takes one to two hours to level up once via killing enemies, and all of that effort is for a modicum of XP; it may not even be enough for the upgrade you’re pining for. Tack on having zero checkpoints and it becomes a frustrating sortie of trial and error. Adding salt to the wound, upgrades and progress do not carry over to other difficulties, so all of your hard work doesn’t matter if you want to try something harder or cruise through something easier. Outside of free roam, Project Root does nothing new or exciting to add to the genre. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone outside of the absolute diehard shmup fans that must have every shmup game.
It could be said that time has not been kind to the humble shoot-em-up. Over thirty years ago, games like Space Invaders, Defender, Asteroids and Galaxian were drawing mullet-sporting teens in stonewashed skinny jeans and tight leather jackets to amusement arcades like moths to the glowing neon lights that would hang above the entrance. Today, such arcades are a rarity; mostly replaced by shops or trendy bars and often pulled down entirely, whilst the teenagers of 2015 queue all night outside their local grocery store to buy the latest copy of Call of Duty minutes after its launch.
The shoot-em-up genre has never been keen to go quietly into the night, however, and every generation of consoles has had its fair share of classic static, scrolling and roaming shoot-em-ups for players to consider. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a couple of days with Project Root, an upcoming shooter from Argentinian developer OPQAM that is positioning itself as the definitive next-generation take on this classic genre.
Project Root claims to feature a unique open world aspect in addition to crisp controls, cutting edge graphics, a comprehensive upgrade system and a truly exceptional level of challenge. The game isn’t scheduled for release for a few more weeks, but my experience with it over the past couple of days leads me to suggest that it may yet need a little work to live up to the lofty expectations set by the forebears which it aims to emulate.
Argentinian indie developer OPQAM wants to give gamers some classic arcade-style shmup action, and that’s exactly what they’re doing with Project Root. Recently announced by OPQAM and Reverb Triple XP, Project Root is an overhead shooter with free-roaming open environments. You play as Lance Rockport, a rebel pilot attempting to end the Prometheus Corporation’s plans for world domination. Taking flight in an advanced F-72 Zonda fighter, you’ll fight enemies both on the ground and in air across eight distinct levels. Players fighting in this revolution can also look forward to upgradable firepower, special weapon drops, and crazy boss battles.
Project Root is coming to Xbox One in early 2015. Check out the reveal trailer after the jump.