As first person shooters continued their ascent to become the most dominate gaming genre in the industry, fans of the shoot em up style had to accept that their golden age was behind them. It’s been a very long time since gamers were provided a full priced AAA entry, instead being forced to rely on indie titles and re-released classics. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Remote Life is one of the best to do it in years but rather impressive that it was made by only one person.
What stood out the most from the beginning was that the basic weapons, of which there are three, do not have set firing directions. Instead, like a twin stick shooter can be controlled to fire in any direction surrounding your ship. This provides the opportunity for the developer to throw more enemies than usual at you from all directions, forcing you to have to pay a lot more attention to enemy distance in order to prioritize rather than just direction.
The three main guns mentioned all have their own weapon slot that you can freely swap between at any time. These are the standard gun with moderate speed and damage, the weaker but obviously more versatile spread and the heavy hitting but very slow rockets. The strategic part of this all is that special weapon pick-ups are all attributed to a particular slot so that when you grab them it overwrites that basic weapon with a limited ammo clip. Meaning that if you want to save a particular type for a difficult situation, you will need to swap to another slot because once depleted that clip reverts back to the default type. There is also a fourth slot assigned to grenade attacks but its default is empty so use them sparingly.
The most important pick up however are the additional hearts which provide you with an extra life. You begin with 5 hearts to complete a level and no checkpoints, so if you lose your last one on the boss, right back to the beginning. You shouldn’t worry too much because if you go into one of these boss arenas with even 2 lives and having saved a decent special weapon it will probably be trivial, especially on the default difficulty setting of easy. On the other hand, the path to this final encounter, even with that seemingly low challenge level, will punish you and ensure you see the game over screen plenty.
The biggest culprit of your demise won’t be all of the enemies on screen or even many of their projectiles, it will be the environments and debris that you will inevitable run into. If you do not go in prepared to be just as quick triggered on evasion as firing your gun, you will not be successful. Most projectiles thrown or dropped by an enemy ship can be shot but miss even one that is the size of a couple pixels and colliding with it will see you explode. In fact, once you learn an enemy type’s placement and attack patterns you will more likely die to the ones that you shouldn’t shoot instead. Yes, there are some that can’t be defeated and shooting will only cause to split or grow creating more obstacles.
There are also a few occurrences where the gameplay gets changed up to provide a bit of variety. Sometimes there will be a stationary weapon that assists by firing at the same angle as your weapon, a vehicle that needs to be escorted meaning that damage to their hull is more important than a heart or two for you, and even some levels that forgo the self scrolling entirely and allow you to free roam, map and all.
The story hasn’t been mentioned as of yet because it’s honestly very forgettable. There is an alien threat, a rescue mission and a fight for humanity but who really needs a story in this genre; shoot the enemy, you are good. The most memorable aspect of it will be the poor voice acting and translation and only that will be a minor bullet point because it’s not important. Are the controls responsive? Yup, so who cares?
The presentation is also quite good. For the most part the game looks fine or better, runs at a smooth clip and shows a lot of creativity in its enemy designs, boss visuals and particle effects. Where it could use some work is in the UI department but again, you shouldn’t be looking at much of that when there is so much chaos going on around your actual avatar. The music will also appeal to fans of the more industrial electronic sound and even those who don’t prefer it will recognize the fantastic tonal appropriateness. Remote Life is a game that challenged me throughout but provided a solid sense of accomplishment when the credits started to roll. This is a great example of what a person’s ambition can do and at a very budgeted release price is a game that fans of the genre should not hesitate to pick up.