Thanks to Headup for the review code
Title: Rigid Force Redux
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 06/05/2020
In a far off galaxy, an evil alien army is launching a full force attack! It’s up to you to pilot a ship and use the power of Force Shards to save the galaxy and defeat the evil menace.
In screenshot form, Rigid Force Redux may look like your typical 2.5D space shooter, having a look not unlike the 3D mode from R-Type Dimensions. However, when all of the factors are in motion, you have a surprisingly beautiful game, with stunning backgrounds, clever usage of lighting, and just a good looker overall, which surprised me quite a bit when I popped the dock and played on the TV! It still doesn’t look too distinct or anything, but RFR definitely has a lot of effort put into the visuals, and it goes to good use.
As for the sound, there’s pretty solid voice acting from your ship’s AI parter, which comes in handy during tutorial segments or brief interludes, but the main course is the soundtrack. It’s nothing revolutionary or anything, but it definitely is catchy and has a techy space vibe that accompanies the action quite well, and one I definitely approve of. Big props to the menu music for being oddly satisfying enough to just let it play on loop.
Rigid Force Redux is a side scrolling shooter, taking place across six stages as you guide your ship to reach the end of each stage and defeat the enemies and bosses along the way. It’s pretty typical, all things considered, taking a lot of inspiration from R-Type in particular; the way enemy formations show up, several stage elements, your ship design, to some of the powerups all feel as if they could easily have fit into a R-Type game with little alterations, and that isn’t exactly a bad thing, since the game itself doesn’t try to 1:1 copy R-type.
RFR’s controls are simple and to the point, with your typical standard shot, which can be changed to different attacks depending on which color powerup you get, a button that shifts your pod position around, so you can aim from behind if you wish, and the most important aspect to your arsenal, absorbing dropped energy with ZR to use for your energy meter.
This energy meter can single-handedly turn the tides in heated situations, for holding the Y button when your meter is filled will cause you to unleash a powerful attack and expend your meter. This can easily decimate waves of enemies, minibosses, and a good chunk of Boss health bars, so it becomes a very crucial skill to get used to and master, since enemies will drop this green energy like candy, and knowing when to take advantage of it is key.
Otherwise, Rigid Force follows most of the same tropes during the six stage run, and offers two main modes to enjoy: there’s the normal story mode, with the main six stages and a focus on clearing it little by little, and the Arcade mode, where the six stages are remixed with a score attack focus in mind.
The latter mode only lets you play a stage if you cleared it in the main mode, so sadly you can’t marathon the whole game through that mode, much to my confusion. I found the little touches in Arcade mode to be far more enjoyable than the stages as they are normally, which made this restriction a shame. Still, normal mode is decent fun, if a bit generic. You have multiple difficulty options and limited continues available if you want to turn up the heat, and you can even resume from a stage that you cleared.
Unfortunately, this means you can’t outright suspend a playthrough in progress, so if you’re in the middle of Stage 3 and need to take a break, you gotta start on Stage 2 the next time you come back. It’s a bit of a baffling exclusion in my book, and while I get this working for the stage select, there should at least be an easy way to suspend a current playthrough. Still, the game itself isn’t that long, so the only thing stopping you from completing it is lack of motivation. There’s also quite a few bonuses to go after, from a Boss Rush mode and a ton of in-game achievements that’ll increase replay value by quite a bit, even though the main game didn’t feel like anything too memorable at the end of it all.
In conclusion, Rigid Force Redux is a short yet intriguing take on R-Type’s Formula, only with a lot more accessibility and quite the fun ride for scorechasers, with a bit more extra content for achievement hunters and completionists. Still, the core game is rather brief, and the levels can have uninteresting or uninspired periods of boredom, so I can’t say this is a must-play exactly, especially for the steep price.
With all that said, however, the gorgeous visuals, good soundtrack and fun scoring mechanics in Arcade Mode still give Rigid Force some merit even if as a whole general package, it doesn’t quite nail it. I kinda wish that the saving system worked a bit better, that Arcade Mode could be marathoned like the story mode, and that there was some sort of co-op mode. (the latter is apparently going to be added soon… To the Intellivision Amico version of the game. (Yes, the footbath-shaped gaming console.)
As the core gameplay loop still has a lot of positive, and I loved the main mechanic of absorbing energy to save for bigger shots. If this game ends up on sale and you’re a scorechaser fan, then this is an easy recommendation, but at the normal price, this is a tough sell for all but the most die-hard shump fans that don’t mind the premium price for little of interest.
I give Rigid Force Redux a 6 out of 10.