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Vortex Attack Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Vortex Attack is a fun throwback shoot-em-up that is marred by repetitive action, disappointing boss fights and a serious pacing issue. Fans of the genre may get a kick out of the competitive scoring system and regular tournaments, but I couldn't get beyond the sense that I've seen this all before. Rating: 57%
Vortex Attack
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  • Review Score:

  • C+
There's been a lot of talk lately about the types of occupations that won't be around in a few decades. For example, it certainly looks like truck drivers, telemarketers and retail clerks are in danger or losing their jobs, and I wouldn't want to be in the newspaper delivery game right about now. But if games from the 1980s and 90s have taught me anything, it's that there is one career that will always be in high demand -- fighter pilots.

Based on the evidence, our future will eventually devolve into a seemingly endless barrage of battles that pit one brave fighter pilot against the galaxy's nastiest alien armies. But just imagine how much more effective this plan would be if instead of sending one person to fight the invading force, we decide to send thousands of dedicated pilots. Whether they go all at once or one at a time, it's clear that we're going to need a lot of fighter pilots in the coming years.


If you're not interested in the hard work it takes to become a real life Top Gun, then maybe you should check out Vortex Attack, the brand new retro-inspired shoot-em-up from Kaleido Games. You won't get the satisfaction of single-handedly saving the planet from certain doom, but at least this $5 action game won't rip you away from your friends and family.

Inspired by single-screen shooters like Space Invaders and Galaga, Vortex Attack sees players fighting off swarms of colorful enemies in hopes of earning big points and dominating the learderboards. Each stage has you going head-to-head with a vortex. While that may not sound so bad, the truth is that this vortex is capable of sending increasingly difficult waves of enemies your way. The solution is to shoot down these enemies and collect their valuable energy, which forces the vortex to implode.

With the exception of boss fights and bonus stages, every level plays out this way. You'll race around the screen shooting down bad guys and the vortex will implode. Sometimes it will take a few waves to destroy the vortex, while other stages will take only a few seconds. It's a simple theme that does good job of mimicking shooters from the early 1980s.

Vortex Attack (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

One look at the power-ups and you'll feel right at home. Our ship starts its journey stuck on the slow speed with a weak gun, but that won't be the case for long. The game is filled with familiar items, like a speed boost, spread gun and force field. The most useful power-up is a secondary ship that can increase your firepower in surprising ways.

Unfortunately, Vortex Attack falls into the same trap that plagued so many of the shooters that inspired it. The big problem is that it's too repetitive. While the game does a good job of adding new characters along the way, it isn't enough to keep the game from growing monotonous. This problem is only compounded by the reliance on throwback power-ups and enemy types.

It doesn't help that Vortex Attack takes too long to get going. The first third of the game lacks challenge and nearly lost me completely. The action does heat up in the later stages, but it's not enough to make up for the first few levels. And don't even get me started on the boss fights, which look like placeholders for the real battles.

Vortex Attack (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Perhaps anticipating some of these criticisms, the developers have placed a lot of emphasis on the competitive scoring and multiplayer modes. Vortex Attack supports up to three players on the same system, each choosing from the various unlockable ships. It's fun to fight over energy combos, which lead to high scores. The game also plans regular online tournaments to keep players on their toes.

I'm not sure any of this is enough to keep me coming back, but I appreciate the direction Kaleido Games is headed. Vortex Attack is a solid shoot-em-up that does a good job of mimicking your favorite arcade games of the 1980s. Sadly, the repetitive gameplay and slow pacing makes it hard for me to fall in love with this retro throwback.
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