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    dkirschner's Velocity 2X (PS4)

    [July 3, 2024 08:03:22 AM]
    Really polished game that's a seamless blend of arcade-style spaceship games and 2d sidescrolling shoot-em-ups. Velocity 2x's movement is ridiculously smooth (and so appreciated after playing floaty FAR: Changing Tides!) and you have tight control over it; they clearly spent a long time getting it just right. The game unfolds over 50 levels, and during its runtime trickles new abilities, upgrades, and adds much depth to the basic mechanics that allow for ever more complex and impressive level design.

    The main trick it pulls is, as I alluded, seamlessly switching between having you control the main character's ship and Kai herself. You begin each level in the ship, flying "up" the screen in typical 2d space shooter style. You can shoot straight ahead, throw bombs in the cardinal directions, teleport in any direction, and speed up. You'll use these skills to navigate the level, kill enemies, collect researchers (pick-ups breadcrumbed throughout the flying parts), and blow up numbered keys. You'll occasionally approach doors where you can dock and get off on foot, where you run-and-gun your way through, collecting crystals (pick-ups breadcrumbed throughout the on-foot parts), killing enemies, avoiding/shooting/teleporting through obstacles, and blowing up more numbered keys.

    The numbered keys are the key (ha) to the levels' complexity. Keys are both numbered and color-coded such that, for example, in earlier levels, you might have a blue 1, 2, and 3. You have to shoot them in order, with blue 1 making blue 2 available to shoot, and so on. In later levels, you will have tons of keys, for example blue 1-9, orange 1-9, red 1-8, and purple 1-7. The game eventually introduces long-range teleporters, which let you essentially drop beacons that you can instantly teleport back to from the map. The screen flashes blue and makes an indicator noise at junctures where you should place long-range teleporters, for example, at a juncture where you can go right or left (drop teleporter, go left to the end, warp back, then go right). Earlier levels are linear, but the later ones become labyrinthine, with out-of-order keys all over the place, including in the on-foot parts. For example, you fly, shoot blue 1 at a juncture, drop a teleporter, go left, shoot blue 2, enter dock A (the on-foot parts are lettered), shoot blue 3 and purple 1 in there, come out, shoot purple 2, teleport back, go straight, shoot red 1, enter dock B, shoot red 2 and blue 4, come out, teleport back, go right, enter dock C, shoot red 3, come out, teleport back, go left again, enter dock A again, shoot red 4 and blue 5, come out, etc. etc. It's even way more complicated than that because color-coded locks will "wall off" certain areas that only become navigable once you blow up that lock. So, shooting that blue 5 might open up a new path. You'll have several long-range teleporters laid down at once and will be traversing back and forth around the map, which conveniently indicates which locks are shootable, to move forward. Once I realized that these levels were becoming puzzles, I was like, "Now THIS is cool."

    It's obvious I was into this. BUT, about 2/3 of the way through, I realized that the game did me dirty! You see, on each level, you earn a score based on (a) how long it takes to complete; (b) how many researchers you rescue; (c) how many crystals you collect; and (d) how many points you earn, which seems to be some reflection of the first three. Meeting thresholds on any measure nets you experience points (for example, beat it in 1 minute, you get 60 points, in 2 minutes you get 40 points, and in 3 minutes you get 20 points). This is cool. It allows you to strive for mastery. BUT, each subsequent level is locked behind experience point pre-requisites; you must have xxxx experience points to unlock each level. This means that you have to attain some level of mastery on previous levels. I didn't realize this until about 2/3 of the way through. Until then, I had been operating under the assumption that doing pretty good on all measures each level was good enough (I even got an achievement for being above average on all levels up to a point!). But it was level 38 or 39 or so when I didn't have enough experience to unlock it. What to do? Well, I went back to level 1 and started aiming to beat levels faster and get all the researchers and crystals that I'd previously missed. Usually, I was scraping 20-40 extra experience points from each level. Had I known that this level gatekeeping would be a problem, I would have gone a little slower through each level in the first place and picked up all the researchers and crystals. Did I not know this because I don't play many games in this genre? Is this a relic from it being 10 years old? Did other players hit this wall earlier or later than me? Were they similarly annoyed?

    I replayed about half the levels, and unlocked a few more with my hard-scraped experience points, before deciding that it wasn't worth my time. I think I am at level 42 or 43. I calculated how much more experience I need to get all the way to level 50, and how much time it would take to get it all, and I would need to continue replaying at least 8 more levels (which would bring me into the 30s), and doing exceedingly well on the increasingly difficult unexplored ones in the 40s. Basically, I would be replaying the entire game. I am really annoyed that the game wasn't explicit in telling me that I need to focus on collecting all researchers, crystals, and going fast to maximize experience because later levels are gatekept! In fact, there are three "types" of levels, and one is a speed level, where you are supposed to go as fast as possible. I understood that if you miss a few crystals, it's okay. But no, you need every bit of experience to move forward. It's grindy.

    Even though I am not going to finish, I still really like Velocity 2x. The only negative thing is regarding the level gatekeeping; everything else is impressive, especially the maze-like level design with all the colored and numbered locks and the excellent movement. It's older, and I had to buy a physical copy because it's not on the PS Store, but was worth getting my hands on.
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    dkirschner's Velocity 2X (PS4)

    Current Status: Stopped playing - Got frustrated

    GameLog started on: Monday 1 July, 2024

    GameLog closed on: Tuesday 2 July, 2024

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Fast, with teleporting. Neat to switch between run & gun and ship. -------- Great game, impressive level design, but annoying gatekeeping in later levels.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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