Voxeliens – Review


developed by Volumes Of Fun

If you’ve played Space Invaders, or remember any of the titles from the plethora of clones that have been released since the original, then you’ll quickly come to understand how Voxeliens plays.  It’s an old fashioned “shmup” that delivers the classic feel, but more importantly, the fun of the original games of the genre.  Of course, this isn’t a simple rehash as Voxeliens is a Space Invaders clone with a twist.

Shmups, or Shoot’em Ups, are more popularly known for their 2D graphics that favor either a horizontal or vertical playing field.  Voxeliens does things a little different by bringing the gameplay of Space Invaders to the realm of 3D, utilizing cube-like voxels (volumetric pixels) for graphics.  Not content with simply making another Space Invaders clone, the developers at Volumes Of Fun have created a Space Invader clone for the current generation.  Instead of only moving from left to right, the player may also move forward or backward into the foreground or background.  It’s a little unusual at first considering the genre isn’t commonly played in this way, but it works well and isn’t very difficult to pick up or get into.

The game plays simply, utilizing the ‘WASD’ keys for player movement, and the mouse for shooting and camera controls.  The sensitivity of the camera controls are a little jarring at first but casual and veteran gamers alike should be able to ease into the setup with little trouble.  The controls overall are tight though, and this is important because each stage is filled with terrain that also acts like a bit of an obstacle course.  This makes for an interesting balance in gameplay because you not only have to pay attention to your enemies, but also the layout of each level.  For the most part the terrain is destructible and some of the landscape can act as a shield from enemy fire or it might just impede your ability to fire upon the enemy.  No matter what, it’s important to keep your eyes on the screen at all times since the difficulty level does increase with every new stage that is completed.  The icing on the cake is that their are a handful of neat weapon power-ups that work very well against the invading Voxelien forces.  The effect of these bonus weapons is only temporary though which helps add to the tension of the gameplay a bit.

The graphics and sound are retro…  plain and simple.  The voxel graphics work well to give the full effect of a 3D Shoot’em Up.  The enemies look like your generic aliens from any number of Space Invader clones, only they’re more three dimensional.  The terrain of the levels however, look great and provide a varied arrangement of stages.  The music is nothing to write home about but that’s because it’s reminiscent of the classic Space Invaders music, so it does get the job done.  Meanwhile, the sound fx are exactly what you’d expect – just your simple blaster sounds taken straight from what could be your Atari 2600, Amiga, Commodore 64, or Apple ][+.

Voxeliens does Space Invaders in 3D very well.  I haven’t yet found another 3D style clone of the original that has been done so well.  Voxeliens is fun, easy to get into, and tough to master.  The first few levels aren’t that difficult, but the challenge does ramp up and gives gamers a good excuse to go compete for the highest score.  There’s not much I can criticize about the core gameplay there is one thing missing from the game and that is an online leaderboard.  I still appreciate having local scoreboards so that I can compete against friends and family, but in an age of the internet it would be nice to see the scores that other players are racking up.

Voxeliens is available for Windows with a Linux version coming soon.  You can try out the free demo of Voxeliens, but if you’re a fan of Shmups or Space Invaders then you should just go and buy the game immediately.  It’s being sold for the amazingly low price of $3.99US, so you simply can’t go wrong.  Be sure to check out the Voxeliens website!


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