The holiday season isn’t all about AAA games! Indies still have their place, and lately that place has been “getting ported to consoles because we need cash money.” Today we’re going to talk about one of those very ports: Zotrix, a retro-styled shooter that was originally released in July for PC that’s found new life on the PlayStation 4.
Zotrix is an odd sort of hybrid game that’s played on two different levels. At its most basic, this is a twin-stick shooter with low-fi graphics. You’ll fly around with the left stick, blast aliens with the right and grab weapon-boosting powerups when they appear. Unlike most shooters you’re able to destroy enemy shots with your own and you’re a little more durable, able to take several shots before dying; on the other hand, enemies come in giant swarms and you’ll need to stay on your toes or die regardless. You’re technically escorting a transport, but you only have to worry about yourself during the trip, so don’t worry about this being an entire game made of escort missions!
This, though, actually just enables the second part of the game. See, this is actually an economic simulation as well. Your job is to help transport resources from one space station to another. You’ll earn resources, then, based on the missions you choose and you’ll spend these on upgrades and consumable power-ups like bombs and gun drones. You can also sell and buy resources at different stations and will likely have to do so in order to afford the upgrades you need; a buy-low, sell-high system is also possible, allowing you to accumulate vast amounts of resources and cash once you’ve got the hang of things.
Neither aspect of Zotrix is especially thrilling, but put together they make for a decent enough time. Building up cash and resources in order to buy ship upgrades is addictive, especially once you’ve put together a route that allows you to stock up without having to do missions that are too difficult. It’s a nice-looking game for what it’s trying to do, though if you’ve been embittered by years of me-too retro-styled indie games you might be less than impressed. Really, your main complaints are likely to be the interface, a frustrating affair which was clearly designed for the PC rather than the PS4, and the tiny size of the text during plot exposition.
Still, though, Zotrix is affordable and the gameplay cycle is fun enough to keep you blasting away for some time. I’m not especially fond of retro graphics, but Zotrix is done well enough that I can’t complain too much about its chosen aesthetic. If you’re after some old-fashioned alien blastin’ action with a side of space trucking, Zotrix might be the game for you.