Redux: Dark Matters finally hits the nostalgic button on our Dreamcast

Redux Dark Matters boss

The frustrating first boss

Redux: Dark Matters is a side scrolling shmup which was successfully funded via Kickstarter 18 months ago, after greatly surpassing its goal of $25,000 by about $28K. While the gameplay is not lightning fast, there are more than enough enemies and bullets to dodge, proving itself to be a challenge to even veteran players of the genre.

There are two difficulty settings, Normal and Veteran, and each offer a different ship for the player to use. I didn’t notice much of a difference in terms of the enemies when choosing Veteran, although that ship’s weapons certainly had a larger spread on screen.

Once I understood that I had a bullet-absorbing shield, the game became a bit easier, but that highlights one of my key issues with the game: its lack of instruction to the player. For example, the ship used on the Normal difficulty setting could refill its shield by collecting what could best be described as Corn Pops® throughout the level. However, I never saw the meter increase with the Veteran ship.

While on the topic of difficulty, the first boss is extremely difficult and confusing. It will briefly open up and expose its core which you can then attack, however it also has a large blast that comes your way. When the boss closes its doors, it then fires a flurry of bullets at you, which is when things became confusing.

I couldn’t tell if my shooting had any effect on the projectiles the boss was firing, and additionally it seemed like absorbing the bullets continued to increase my shield meter. Trying the same tactic on the boss when it let out its big blast didn’t quite work so well for me.  Therefore, much of my experience with the bosses came down to trial and error, which further compounded my frustration, especially because after three lives it’s back to the beginning of the level.

What did finally work for me, however, was getting through the stage without being hit, and thus having my ship at max power will all of my weapons attached. This allowed me to take out the boss relatively easily in addition to using the shield to help. You’ll want to absorb as many of the yellow projectiles as possible, as this continues to recharge your bullet sponge meter and give you access to a set of homing missiles which can target the boss’ weak spot.

Redux_PC_Debug_2013-11-12_15-17-48-26

With my fully upgraded ship, I easily plowed through the second stage. The third stage, however, proved to be more difficult with its constantly shifting environment and split paths. I just wish that it were a bit easier to quickly discern which environmental objects would damage my ship or not.

It’s difficult to judge this title on its visual qualities at the moment because I’m playing it on a Dreamcast using component cables connected to a widescreen digital television. For those of you with older consoles on newer TVs, you can understand what I mean. Systems like the Dreamcast were developed for CRT televisions and display best on them, and LCD TV’s typically distort part of the image.

$50 maybe a steep price tag for many but for those of us used to importing Japanese shooters, this is the norm. Despite my frustrations with the game, I still enjoyed my time with it, although I believe most fans would be better served waiting for the Steam and iOS versions, which will likely come at a cheaper price point. I knew what I was getting into, though, when picking up a $50 shmup on a now 14 year-old console which was largely known for its arcade collection. If you can put up with some of the frustrations mentioned above, I think you could get a kick out of a game reminiscent of Super R-Type, but be prepared for a difficult time.

  Rating: ★★★☆☆

 Redux: Dark Matters was provided for review on disc by the developer and was played on Dreamcast hardware.

 

 

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Posted on by Dave Voyles in PC Reviews, 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

  • Carlos Oliveros

    It’s not only that the DC was design for CRTs: also Redux features exactly half the resolution the original Dux had. Yes, Dux 1.0 and 1.5 feature neat, crisp 480p while this 3rd revision of the game went a setp backwards in the graphics department. Not a single real, honest screenshot from the DC version has been shown by the creators. All pics and videos are captured from the (HD) PC version. None of this was even hinted at during the Kickstarter campaign or the whole year of delays and misinformation that followed.

  • DaveVoyles

    I agree. I would liked to have seen some DC screens as well. Short of me taking a picture of the screen with my camera, there was nothing I could do as well, as I don’t own a capture card.

    That’s why I wanted to be clear in the review that what I was seeing was a bit different from the image above.

  • Carlos Oliveros

    You know, I’m also a writer for spanish multiplatform mag Games Tribune, and I wrote a 6-page review for this game too. Our mag is out tomorrow. I’ve done my best to be fair and unbiased but also to warn people about this. They’re not only letting people down, they’re losing their trust on their future projects and also damaging indie projects by other small dev teams that may be looking for fundings in the same way.