After the first Radio Flare launched, we immediately found ourselves hooked to its addicting music-themed gameplay. The way the enemy explosions synced perfectly with the beat was an incredible experience and one we have continued to go back to. Unfortunately, the sequel lags behind in the beat department, but it does do a lot of other things right to justify a purchase.
From the screenshots it may look like a stylish side-scrolling shooter, but the gameplay works quite differently. You move your ship with your left thumb while your right slides over oncoming enemies. By holding down on as many enemies as possible, you raise your multiplier. Once you lift release your thumb, the enemies will explode to the beat, leaving behind particles filled with points. There is some control awkwardness overall, but it works for the most part.
The deadliest of figure 8’s.
The original Radio Flare’s enemies were much more interesting and varied than those found in Redux. Instead of petal-spraying flowers and colorful space junk, here you have generic round drones and bomber ships. As the game goes on, few new enemies and boss types are revealed, giving the game a repetitive feeling. Many of their formations are repeats as well, usually circles or straight lines.
As far as the music element goes, Redux is generally an improvement. Chances are you won’t recognize any of the indie electronic artists, but take our word for it that this is quality music. The downside to Redux’s audio element is that it doesn’t mix the gameplay sounds with the background music as well as the first one did. Instead of the pulsing low bass thumps of the original, destroying enemies in this one makes tiny popping sounds that don’t mesh with the beat. Some power ups affect the music momentarily, but they’re rare.
To complement the songs are eye-catching graphics. Depending on the style of the song, the background might have flashing white lights, thumping pixel art, or mellow color tones. The ship and enemies are all portrayed in a cel-shaded style. As you gather points, new visual enhancements like different ship colors and themes become available. Our favorite is the black and white theme that makes your ship and enemy drones silhouettes on a bright background.
The stills may look like MS paint, but it looks awesome in motion.
Other unlockables include a sound mixer, where you can play with different sound effects from the game in a sequencer-like interface, a visualizer mode that allows you to play a level without enemies and enjoy the graphics, and achievements over Crystal. Crystal also brings online leaderboards, which is always a plus for high score based games.
The major feature missing from Redux is a survival mode. Unlike the original that let you play from the first level to the last without stopping, this game is broken up into 33 levels that range anywhere from 30 seconds to eight minutes. You can always replay any of these, but there isn’t an endless option to improve the longevity of its appeal.
Complaints aside, Radio Flare Redux is a solid sequel to its unique predecessor. If you never had the opportunity to try the original or did and loved what was offered, we can easily recommend checking this game out.