“Steredenn is a frenetic and chaotic space shooter, carved in big beautiful pixels, with insane boss battles. Embark in your ship and engage the fight against dreadful space pirates in a never-ending combat for your survival. “
– The Steredenn Steam page (http://store.steampowered.com/app/347160/)
I knew I was going to enjoy Steredenn from the moment I started playing it. I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for quick-paced, action-packed 2D Space shooters after all the time I spent with R-Type in my younger days, so Steredenn certainly ticked all the right boxes for me.
Steredenn is a tricky side-scrolling space shooter that sees you take on bombardments of enemy spaceships as you carefully navigate through the perils of Space, tasked with the ultimate goal of wiping out your foe’s elite spaceships. It’s bursting with nostalgic vibes thanks to its wonderful pixelated look and simple yet enjoyable gameplay, though it’ll certainly appeal to modern gamers too thanks to the rogue-like mechanics featured in the game.
Fans of retro-pixely style visuals will love Steredenn’s aesthetics, with some great early 90s-era style graphics on show throughout each of the game’s levels. Each of the game’s environments look great with a plethora of striking colour taking over the screen – you’ll fly past bright nebulae, impressive planets and dangerous asteroid fields as you race through space to take down your enemies.
Admittedly I’ve seen better pixel art in other video games, with Steredenn’s retro style visuals slightly lacking with the finer details. It’s certainly pretty on the eyes though so it won’t bother you too much.
The core gameplay of Steredenn sees you working through countless waves of enemies as you try to reach the end-of-level boss. There are small side-objectives given to you to complete such as defeating every enemy in a wave or not taking damage yourself, though they’re not compulsory – if you’re aiming to work your way up the leaderboards though they’ll be worth completing for the score bonus.
Most of the game’s enemies follow similar simple designs, though the attacks they offer vary enough to keep you on your toes. They have different special characteristics too – some might have shields, some might have a better defence; some might pick you off from a distance, whilst some come equipped with a giant chainsaw and will charge their way towards you.
The enemies that attack from range are the most dangerous though, firing hundreds of shots your way that are incredibly unpredictable. There were a few occasions where I would dodge an incoming bullet, only for it to explode and send countless extra bullets my way. Other times there would be huge lasers blasting at me, or perhaps even just a massive array of colourful bullets that seem to be hitting from all directions. There’s a real ‘bullet-hell’ vibe to Steredenn and you’ll certainly need some quick reactions if you’re going to survive.
The game’s bosses are impressive encounters with each one having their own unique set of deadly attacks that’ll have you sweating right until the end of the battle. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a huge amount of variety in their design, though the size of each boss would slowly increase as you progressed giving off a real sense that bigger is certainly badder. Some of the bosses attacks could be incredibly brutal though, really pushing your Steredenn skills to the limit – on one occasion I though I was the bee’s knees when I managed to dodge a stream of bullets that took up two thirds of the game’s screen, only to then get wiped out by a giant laser that took up what I considered to be the ‘safe-zone’. It’s brutal, it’s difficult, but it’s never unfair – every time you die in Sterdenn there’s no-one to blame but yourself.
Thankfully Steredenn makes sure to keep you well-armed for each encounter with some great weapons that make you a killing machine. There’s a good variety on offer with weapons that not only allow you to take out enemies from range but up close too.
You have the likes of the spinning saw that allows you to grind enemies apart up close, or even the giant jaw that bites out at anything in front of you. These are great to deal out big damage to enemies, though they do come with the risk of being in your enemy’s immediate line of fire. Still, a giant metallic jaw – how sweet is that?
You’ll also get access to ranged weapons such as homing missiles, flame throwers and hyper blasters. You can even get more support based weapons like the gun-bots that you can carefully place around the level and have shoot at opponents for you. You can carry two weapons at a time, so it’s a good idea to have two different weapon types to help you out for each situation you might find yourself in.
Whilst there are plenty of weapons on offer in the game, there’s no guarantee you’ll get one that you want. Weapon pick-ups are dropped by a particular enemy and with each drop being completely random you never know what you might end up with. It can actually make or break a playthrough – it’s important that when you find a weapon you like, you keep it.
It’s not just your weaponry that’ll help you through the game though. Each time you beat a boss you unlock a new upgrade, offering you a wide range of boosts such as a shield, extra health, a faster reload time, increased damage, or even just a boosting multiplier to your score. These upgrades carry over through each level of the game too, so even though the game get progressively more difficult your improved abilities in-game make sure you never get left too far behind.
Of course, if you die you lose everything. Steredenn features one life and perma-death – if you die, you die. There are no continues or extra lives, but instead just the realisation that you have to start your playthrough right from the beginning. Fortunately the game is incredibly addictive so you’ll keep coming back for more – I lost count of how many times I told myself ‘one more go’ before losing countless more hours in the game.
Outside of the game’s main mode, you can also take on the ‘Arena’ as well as the ‘Daily Run’. The Arena allows you to challenge any boss you’ve previously beaten in the game, whilst the Daily Run gives you a new challenge to try and complete each day. I really enjoyed the Daily Runs – each Steredenn player faces the exact same challenge and only gets one attempt at it. I’m proud to say that I finished a Daily Run in first place on the leaderboard in one of the challenges, though it probably helped that I was playing a review copy of the game ahead of release. I’m still counting it as a victory though…
Steredenn provides some great old-school shooting action, though it still manages to feel fairly modern thanks to the rogue-like features of the game. It controls well, it’s action packed, and the retro style of the visuals looks great – there really is a lot to like about the game.
Whether you want a game to spend a good few hours with or even just something you’ll play for five minutes every so often, you can’t go wrong with Steredenn.