Futuridium EP Deluxe – Review

Title   Futuridium EP Deluxe
Developer  MixedBag
Publisher  MixedBag
Platform  Windows PC, Mac, Linux, iOS
Genre  Shoot 'em up, Arcade
Release Date  September 30th, 2014
Official Site  www.futuridium.com

Futuridium EP Deluxe is a retro throw-back from Italian indie devs Mixed Bag, and eschews any semblance of a plot for some good old-fashioned arcade action. When beginning the main gameplay mode, Deluxe Mode, you start off controlling a ship as it flies into the screen, going through the game’s small handful of instructions. The game is split into five zones, each containing ten levels. The majority of these levels comprise some sort of structure floating in space, over (and around) which you must fly, avoiding obstacles and defenses while shooting little blue cubes. Shooting those regains you some energy, which is otherwise constantly depleting. Lose all your energy and you lose a continue.

Getting through the levels will be a suitable challenge for most gamers, but the big scores come from destroying those blue cubes in quick succession, which builds up your combo. Medals are also awarded for comboing the whole level, beating it in a speedy fashion and not dying but, in a similar way to Velocity 2X and Hotline Miami, it might just be more fun to play it for progression rather than perfection. Moving around in space feels great. Your ship is quite nimble but can only aim directly forward, meaning there’s a little bit of risk involved if you are trying to line your targets up at the last second. As the levels get more complicated, swooping in and out of them becomes very satisfying and, for the most part, if you die it’s because you’re a cackhanded donkey rather than any unfairness on the game’s part.

One key gameplay mechanic is the ability to flip your ship in order to travel backwards. This allows you to go back for cubes you’ve missed and also can be used to stop you crashing into things. Of course, it was only at the point of first flipping my ship that I realised ‘wait a minute, this is just Uridium in 3D!’ Uridium was a top down, 8-bit shooter that also saw you flying over structures in space and this is definitely a re-invisioning of that. I guess the name was a clue too. Now, I never liked Uridium, it was more of a hit on the Commodore 64 and I spit on that beige piece of shit, but Futuridium is a lot more fun to play and the new viewpoint makes for a far more interesting game, as do the comboing mechanics.

As you shoot the blue cubes, they are added to your total (across all playthroughs), and these unlock new modes (which aren’t a big deal), skins and, most helpfully, extra continues, which means there is always a motivation to keep re-trying as eventually those continues should make completion possible for most players. I love it when games do that. Make the content accessible to everyone but use clever scoring mechanics to keep the super-autistics happy, too.

What really sets Futuridium apart from the crowd is the visuals. Each level looks like a Star Fox stage recreated in vivid neon hues and, as a fan of games like Rez, it’s a great look. Retro gameplay is huge right now on PlayStation indie titles, and usually that comes with shitty 8 or 16-bit visuals. That’s not the case here. Everything looks suitably nice on the PS4 and these colours really pop on the Vita, especially the lovely OLED model. The graphics are complimented by an excellent electro soundtrack by French musician Le Degout, which also adds to the sophisticated level of presention on offer.

I’m a sucker for neo-retro stuff and Futuridium‘s mix of accessible gameplay and stylish aesthetics make it a winner for me. The only downsides are a notably missing cross-saving function between the PS4 and Vita, and a lack of variation in gameplay mechanics, but this is a pick up-and-play arcade title, and so that is to be expected. The visuals don’t really change much as you progress, which is a shame when you consider how well games like Rez adapt their look between different levels.

If you want something that’s nice to look at and fun to play then Futuridium is certainly recommended. If you don’t then I can only suggest playing the Biscuit Game with John McCririck. I know what I’d pick.

  • Fun, accessible gameplay
  • Added depth for people with talent
  • Striking visuals and soundtrack
  • Equally good on PS4 and PS Vita (and has cross-buy)
  • No cross-saving
  • Can be a little repetitive

Futuridium is one of the best (unofficial) retro remakes I've ever seen. It takes the core gameplay of Uridium, pushes it through a Star Fox on LSD visual filter, and uses risk vs reward gameplay to make it a ton of fun to play (and very addictive, too). This is definitely one of the indie hits of the year, especially as it's not a platforming game about feelings.

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