With there being so many games on the market to choose from, it can be a daunting task to find out just which ones suit your needs. However, the shmup genre is one that doesn’t typically find itself in the spotlight all too often and so, the choices players have aren’t as varied as the other more prominent genres. This brings us to Rigid Force Alpha, an indie shmup title that breathes life back into the genre with its hand-crafted 3D visuals and fast-paced gameplay, making it the suggested title for any fan of the shmup side-scroller genre.
What to Expect
Much like any shmup title whether it be past or present, the premise is quite simple in that you must try and stay alive for as long as possible, avoiding incoming enemy fire and eliminating challenging bosses along the way. Of course you can’t have a shmup without its upgradable weapons, and Rigid Force Alpha gives you the option to increase their firepower and collect special energy orbs, unleashing a powerful shot to end the hordes of enemies flying toward you. The most important to note, and perhaps what makes shmup titles so enthralling, lies solely in the challenge. Rigid Force Alpha puts your reaction abilities to the test, only to see just how fast you’re able to fend off enemy gunfire, maximize damage on the fly and rack up high scores simultaneously in one go. It definitely isn’t easy, but with enough practice you’ll be able to tackle any obstacle that comes your way, and with Rigid Force Alpha allowing you to replay maps via the Arcade Mode, the replay value just gets higher and higher.
Visually speaking, Rigid Force Alpha uses hand-crafted 3D visuals to really help the game pop in its own way. Unlike the conventional shmup that tends to teeter towards the more retro look to appeal to the nostalgia junkies, Rigid Force Alpha tries to maintain a more modern approach by keeping the visuals clean, still providing the same thrilling shmup experience that many of us are familiar with. It’s by no means breathtaking, but the 3D visuals do bring things to life more and add a little depth to the gameplay experience. The UI is simple and well presented, which is great since most of your focus should be planted on the action in front of you, rather than a screen full of options that become too distracting. The menu screen is also minimal, and its use of simple colors is a nice treat.
Perhaps the most inviting feature of Rigid Force Alpha lies in its choice of music, which really compliments the futuristic theme the game appeals to. The mixture of electro-style sounds really adds a lot of hype to the gameplay experience, and often times we found ourselves losing not because of the enemies but because the music had us bobbing our heads and got distracted. Maybe it’s because we’re big fans of the electro and synthwave genre that it appealed to us more, but whether you’re a fan or not we feel the music certainly helps to set the tone and adds more impact overall. Music enthusiasts will fall for it!
In Rigid Force Alpha you have the Story Mode, which you can dive straight into and is more or less the main mode of the game. We say main mode because this is where you’ll spend most of your time, since it will help you to unlock the other modes in the game such as Arcade Mode, and through there you can explore other areas of the game. The premise itself is simple: shoot enemies and avoid death as much as possible. However, it’s really not that simple once you’re thrown into the fray and need to be on your best behavior, since enemies really don’t give you time to sit there and think through your decisions. Everything is in the moment, and so you’ll need to be very focused while playing in order to avoid any unnecessary obstacles that may pose a threat to your life. In a way, Rigid Force Alpha feels roguelike because once you get a game over you have to start back from the first stage, which can feel frustrating especially when you’ve worked so hard to get so far.
That of course is where the replay value comes into play, because even when you lose and feel salty over it, you find yourself coming back to it because you’re so adamant on clearing it all. That’s the feeling we enjoy with playing shmups, since they always encourage you to go beyond your limitations and find solutions to what killed you before. It’s a game of constant growth, and in some strange way it teaches you how to be more patient in your approach, learning to take things slowly rather than just simply rushing through. Even for someone who has dabbled with shmups before, Rigid Force Alpha still pushes you to think carefully and not become too lax in your approach, because even one small error in judgement and you lose a life.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Overall, Rigid Force Alpha is an enjoyable experience though it certainly felt like it ended all too quickly. While the main mode was able to occupy our time and keep us on our toes, it didn’t last as long as we’d expected it to, which was a little disheartening. Maybe we’re spoiled and are so used to the constant influx of new boss battles and stages to overcome via titles like Raiden, Radiant Silvergun, and R-Type, but we felt more could’ve been added to give more oomph to the overall experience. Arcade mode alleviates that in a way, but more variety would’ve certainly provided a more robust experience. The great soundtrack really makes up for it though, because it truly brings the game to life in a nice way, and who doesn’t like great music? Maybe a patch down the road to add in more stages would be viable but be that as it may, Rigid Force Alpha is still an enjoyable experience for any fan of the shmup genre to pick up.
Great 3D visuals add more depth to the gameplay experience.
Awesome soundtrack and perhaps the biggest selling point.
Solid replay value via its Arcade mode.
No online features.
Felt a bit short compared to other shmup titles.
Lacking in variety.
Honey's Final Verdict:
We suggest any old-school junkie of the genre to grab this game and play, because you’ll totally enjoy it. Rigid Force Alpha definitely tries to maintain a very fundamental approach, and we guess it’s to be more inviting to players to dive into this genre. While that idea is pleasing to some, the more hardcore players may find things to be too short in thrill and would want more out of the title, especially since you’re paying around $20 for it. Be that as it may, we hope you found the review to be an insightful one and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!