Tachyon Project

If you ever needed (more) proof that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing at the best of times, I bought Tachyon Project at release in 2015, mentally filed it under “not very good” for some reason long lost to the mists of time and never returned to it.

This was quite clearly a mistake because Tachyon Project is pretty far from not very good and it’s been a game I keep coming back to these past few months and enjoying myself with it immensely.

I mean, I know I have a habit of being wrong sometimes but this seemed awfully self defeatingly wrong given how much enjoyment I’ve clearly been denying myself.

Oh well, it’s done now. No real harm done.

It’s probably obvious from the screenshots but Tachyon Project is a dual stick arena shooter in a similar vein to Geometry Wars. I doubt any genre fans will find anything especially surprising in here – it’s all rather familiar in its own little way but that’s fine, right? Perfectly fine. We don’t have to reinvent everything with every new game. Sometimes “more, a bit like that other thing” is *exactly* what I want from a game.

Not that Tachyon Project doesn’t do enough to stand alone, it certainly does – it plays around with its own selection of glowing enemies, modes and what have you. Just the smaller arena alone is enough to give the game a different enough vibe.

It’s unquestionably its own game, doing its own thing, just in an awfully familiar space.

Probably the biggest gulf between Tachyon Project and Geometry Wars comes courtesy of the difficulty. Whereas Geometry Wars can be remarkably punishing in all its incarnations, Tachyon Project is much, much, much, much more gentle. If I had to describe it in a word, that word would be “softer”. If I had to describe it in a sound, that sound would be “pew”. It’s a softer pew (try sneaking that one past autocorrect).

So yeah, it’s usually a little over a fiver and a really enjoyable blast. Still no idea why I put it down first time round though.

Vextor

Vextor (iOS/Android) is, easily, the best mobile arena shooter I’ve had the pleasure of playing.

I realise that many folk will read this and think “well, that’s quite a low bar” and you know, I think that’s fair. It’s not a genre that’s immediately well suited to touch controls.

Yak’s iOS take, Minotron, was as good as things got prior to Vextor. Minotron was very good indeed, there’s just the small problem of it no longer being available. There’s other nearly there games, the wonderfully titled Pewpew 2 got close, Geometry Wars 3 was rather let down by being a mobile port of the not-great Geometry Wars 3 but at least controlled okay. And there’s probably a couple more out there that I can’t recall right now. It’s been a while. Oh yeah, the Radian Games stuff – that was, is, pretty good.

Vextor though? Vextor is fantastic. It looks great and it plays great. I kinda wish it had existed sooner but I’m a patient person. Sometimes. Ok. Not often. But I’m sure I could be if I wanted to be.

Visually it owes a clear debt to Geometry Wars with its neon shapes and deformable grid, also to the absolutely wonderful Bezier (which nowhere near enough people have played – please fix that). It’s a lovely combination of two of my favourite arena shooters and, bonus, it has space fish. This is important. Please put a fish in your game.

Interestingly, Vextor plays differently depending on whether you play it in portrait or landscape mode. In landscape, it’s a traditional and familiar twin stick shooter. In portrait, it’s a mobile Neon Wars. (Although both Vextor and Neon Wars arrived at a similar junction independently, I’m glad it gives me a chance to mention a great and forgotten game).

I know most people have never even heard of Neon Wars, let alone played it. It was an attempt at making Geometry Wars work for a wider audience. Mainly, this meant that instead of having to manage with controlling two sticks, the player would only have to occupy themselves with the movement. Instead of the second stick to control shooting, the game settled on a system where you just had to be in the right place and the game would handle firing for you. It worked way better than it sounds on paper and coincidentally, provides the perfect controls for a one handed touch screen game.

So that’s Vextor, then.

It only took ten years or something but it’s really nice to see the Neon Wars control scheme made to work for a second time and more to the point, to finally be able to have a mobile arena shooter that Just Works(TM).

Vextor is fabulous stuff and I’m so glad it exists. Please do consider giving it a try.