We count down the 32 Dangerous Cheat Codes this holiday season!
- WATCH NOW -
Sublevel Zero Redux Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Much like Descent, Sublevel Zero Redux is a game I admire more than love. It has a lot of cool elements that are handled well, but I'm not sure how often I'll want to return. The game's repetition and sameness started to get to me after a few hours of play, and the dizzying levels start to blur together after a while. Thankfully, none of this is a deal-breaker, and Sublevel Zero Redux serves up a lot of old school action in a fresh way. Rating: 71%
Sublevel Zero Redux
«
Sublevel Zero Redux Sublevel Zero Redux Sublevel Zero Redux Sublevel Zero Redux
  • Review Score:

  • B
Despite being terrible at it, I've always admired the Descent franchise. At a time when most companies were blatantly copying Doom's formula, Parallax Software was doing something different. Their stab at the first-person genre was a dizzying zero gravity shooter that had you spinning in all directions as you navigated the convoluted corridors. It was simultaneously exhilarating and confusing, to the point where I couldn't help but get lost. But I loved the concept all the same and always wished we would see a more modern take on the idea.

In a lot of ways, Sublevel Zero Redux is the game I've been waiting for. It takes everything I liked about Descent and adds a heavy dose of crafting and roguelike elements. It still retains a lot of the retro look and feel, all while updating the formula just enough to feel at home on my PlayStation 4. That sounds like a winner to me.


Believe it or not, this brand new release from Sigtrap Games started its life as part of Ludum Dare challenge. Apparently the developer liked the idea so much that they decided to flesh out the experience and release it as a standalone product. I'm glad they did, because I had a lot of fun getting lost in this world.

There's a story here, though it's largely unnecessary. We're told early on that an event has scattered mankind across the universe, which turns out to be a real bummer. As one of the survivors, it's up to you to pilot a small craft through the large and twisting tunnel system of an abandoned research base. Wait ... did I say it was abandoned? That's not entirely true, since the whole thing is filled with automated sentries and turrets programmed to kill any and all intruders. This is not going to be an easy mission.

The goal is to zip around the procedurally-generated maps taking down these enemies, picking up items and then locating the level's core. Once you've destroyed the core, a warp gate will open and you'll do the whole thing all over again. This may sound simple, but remember, this is a roguelike, so dying means starting over from the very beginning. Of course, there is one thing that will persist throughout each playthrough, and that's the ships you earn from performing different tasks.

Sublevel Zero Redux (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

When I first booted up Sublevel Zero Redux, I expected a lot of first-person shooting and dizzying action. What I didn't expect was the amount of loot and crafting I would be doing. You'll find useful parts and items in treasure chests, on downed enemies and even after you've destroyed the level's core. These aren't just new weapons to equip, but parts you can use to craft better guns and equipment. It helps that you're able to attach four weapons at a time, giving us a gun for pretty much every occasion. The crafting isn't especially deep, but it does add a layer to the action that helps each playthrough stand out.

Going in, I worried that the PlayStation 4's gamepad wouldn't be up to the task. Boy was I wrong. Flying around the self-contained levels is a breeze, and I rarely had a hard time aiming. We're able to easily move up, down and rotate around 90 degrees by simply pushing a button. Best of all, Sublevel Zero Redux has a number of controller pre-sets, making it easy for just about any play style. Given all the flying and rotating you do, I can see how the gameplay could have been botched in a million different ways. The fact that it's so effortless here will likely go unnoticed by many, but that's just a testament to how good it actually is.

Unfortunately, I'm not as enthusiastic about other aspects of Sublevel Zero Redux. A big problem I ran into is that the level designs aren't always conducive for the types of firefights you get into. It's fine when the area is wide open and easy to fly around, but things get dicey the moment you have to dodge bullets in a cramped corridor. I found it to be a little too easy to take cheap hits, which can be especially bad when there are enemies both in front of you and behind. And since you have to start over from the very beginning, these cheap deaths are the very definition of frustrating.

Sublevel Zero Redux (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The lack of variety in both the locations and enemies certainly doesn't help. While the game does change up the visuals from level to level, a lot of the areas will begin to blur together after only a few plays. You'll also recognize the tiles they're using to construct the world. Even though the levels change, the rooms and corridors will repeat. The same goes for the enemies, which are all ugly and boxy. It would have been nice to see a little more variety in both the background designs and the robots you fight.

I may not be that into the enemies, but I was impressed with the overall visuals in Sublevel Zero Redux. The retro-inspired visuals are quick and crisp, giving the game an instantly impressive look. My only real complaint is that sometimes the explosive action gets in the way. I found that it's occasionally difficult to see enemy bullets because there's so much happening on screen. I can also imagine that the chaos may be a little too much for people who are easily prone to motion sickness, though the game offers quite a few options to help combat that issue. Overall, the presentation is one of the best things about Sigtrap's new PS4 game.

Much like Descent, Sublevel Zero Redux is a game I admire more than love. It has a lot of cool elements that are handled well, but I'm not sure how often I'll want to return. The game's repetition and sameness started to get to me after a few hours of play, and the dizzying levels start to blur together after a while. Thankfully, none of this is a deal-breaker, and Sublevel Zero Redux serves up a lot of old school action in a fresh way.
comments powered by Disqus