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Eschatos Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . The spiritual successor to Judgement Silversword, Eschatos is an action-packed shoot-em-up filled with large bosses and seamlessly connected stages. Unfortunately, the roller coaster ride is over too soon. Eschatos is fun, but certainly not essential. Rating: 64%
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
Maybe it was my age or the fact that I was attending a major video game trade show for the first time, but I came away from the 1993 Winter Consumer Electronics Show head over heels in love with Silpheed. This Sega CD shoot-em-up used full-motion backgrounds to evolve the genre. And as a teenager used to Gradius and R-Type, this more cinematic approach made a big impact.

While Silpheed may not have withstood the test of time, it was on the forefront of a radical shift in the shoot-em-up landscape. Suddenly the genre was about more than flying left to right; it saw your tiny ship zip around corners and through cityscapes like never before. But lately we've seen the genre return to its roots, mimicking the simple pixel shooters so common on 8- and 16-bit consoles.

Perhaps it's because I've played so many throwback shooters recently, but I found myself wowed by Eschatos in much the same way I was taken by Silpheed in 1993. The action-packed opening immediately reminded me that 2D shoot-em-ups can be more than just moving back and forth, they can fly through the stages like an ultra-violent roller coaster ride. Unfortunately, just like Silpheed, that adrenaline rush is short-lived.

Eschatos is the spiritual successor to Judgement Silversword, one of the WonderSwan Color's most celebrated games. It stars a tiny ship going up against 26 levels full of devious space invaders. But don't worry; our little craft is equipped with two powerful weapons and a shield that can be manually deployed. This should be enough to single-handedly take on an entire army of alien ships. Whether or not the go-it-alone approach is a good idea is another story.

While Eschatos is fundamentally a vertical shooter, the camera angles don't always make that clear. Sometimes we'll be looking at the action from a perfectly positioned overhead perspective, while a few seconds later everything will shift and we'll be firing directly into the horizon. It feels like we're constantly bouncing from one combat zone to the next, working our way towards the alien's home base.

Eschatos (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

What I especially like is how the experience feels like one uninterrupted journey. There aren't wild cuts where we go from an ice planet to one filled with fire, it's a straight trip through space and beyond. This allows the game to tease the large bosses several levels before they show up. You can often see them waiting in the distance, slowly approaching as you take down the weaker ships.

Although I enjoyed the journey, I wish Eschatos wasn't in such a hurry to leave Earth. With the exception of the final few stages, the early bits involving major cities are by far the game's most interesting backgrounds. The game begins to lose its way the longer we spend in space, and I found myself wishing we could hurry up and get to another planet. That said, you won't have to wait too long for the backgrounds to change. The game's brief run time ensures you'll see every location for only a few minutes.

Eschatos may not be very long, but at least it comes with a few modes and difficulties. The main campaign can be tackled using either standard or enhanced settings, altering the presentation along the way. There's also a Time Attack mode, which has players start with unlimited lives and a fully-powered ship. The catch is that time is constantly counting down, and the game will end if you don't add enough extra seconds to the clock.

Eschatos (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The good news is that you're constantly unlocking new perks and options, even when you crash and burn. But even with the extra modes and extras to unlock, Eschatos is a bit thin. The game is short and there isn't a lot of replay value outside of competing for high scores. Unless you're a die-hard fan of the genre, it wouldn't surprise me if you got bored after only a few hours.

While the lasting value may be limited, this is a great companion piece to Judgement Silversword - Resurrection. It's fun to see the evolution of the 2D shooter, and how Qute was able to expand on the gameplay in fun and interesting ways. That's not enough to make a standout in the genre, but you could do a whole lot worse than Eschatos.
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