Compromised review: No concessions here, this one is good

Twin-stick shooters are nothing new to the XBLIG Marketplace, but they generally get caught in the endless shuffle of titles that flood the platform unless they really stand out or showcase an exceptional level of polish. Fortunately Compromised delivers on both of these elements and proves to be well worth your time and money.

Naturally, a game’s visuals are the first thing that grabs most of our attention, and there was no disappointment here.  The aesthetic is a careful blend from a number of influences, but in the end work out to be a beautiful concoction. The dark art style and blown up hand drawn textures are reminiscent of the Dishwasher series on XBLA, while the green font used for narration is displayed in a manager similar to that of The Matrix. Smoke fills the background and menu screen, while the foreground is often subtly obfuscated by framing, as though you were peering through a destroyed glass ceiling overhead.

The multilayered environments are complimented by a variety of over 25 enemy vessels and structures, and although they are often repeated, the game continues to throw something new at you just in time to keep you on your toes. I mean, the second level opens with a boss fight which took me several attempts to conjure up a plan of attack.

Avoiding enemy projectiles and bombs aren’t your only source of antagonism, as the stages are frequented with a multitude of rotating saw blades that are often swarming with enemies as well. A few areas had me working against the force of a fan pushing me in one direction as I needed to quickly dodge and weave through them while taking out the ones I had enough time to destroy. There is a checkpoint system in place as well, which is fortunate because several of the levels clock in at over ten minutes. The usual level length is impressive, especially for a twin-stick shooter.

Upon death enemies drop two forms of pickups; red boxes which are used for upgrades between stages, and blue boxes which add to your total power-up pool and used at will on one of four abilities. I found the shield to be used more than the others, although the large bomb proved to be extremely effective in areas where I found myself cornered. This device allows you to drop a small container which then gradually increases size over time, thereby pulling any ship near its grasp, yours included, and causing massive amounts of damage.

The upgrade system adds another layer of depth to the game, and as you allocate more points towards one category, said category becomes progressively more expensive. I found the category that increases the chances of more red boxes dropping to be the best initial investment, as you may need to replay a few missions over to earn suitable upgrades before advancing. These run the gamut of increased max health, weapon damage, and armament capacity.

At the moment only the campaign mode is available, and offers enough to keep you entertained for at least the next few hours, while there are plans for free DLC that includes horde and survival modes as well.

If you’re looking for a shooter that offers a bit more depth than most others in the marketplace then you won’t be disappointed by Compromised.  The tight controls, entertaining upgrade system and long levels make this an investment well worth the $3 it will cost you, and reinforces the idea that polished titles are still making their way to the indie marketplace.

Rating: ★★★★½

Compromised was provided for review by developer Super Soul. It can be found on the Xbox Live Marketplace for 240 MSP ($3).

Posted on by Dave Voyles in Reviews, xblig, XBLIG Reviews

About Dave Voyles

Dave is located in Philadelphia, and works as a Tech Evangelist at Microsoft. He's coordinated the Indie Games Uprisings on Xbox Live, wrote the UnrealScript Game Programming Cookbook, Made an XBLIG game, and is currently doing JS / HTML5 dev for browser base games. You can follow him on Twitter, at @DaveVoyles