In need of a challenge? Are today’s games not punishing enough? Well look no further than EastAsiaSoft and Panda Indie Studios’ Red Death. This title hearkens back to the days of retro-style shooters, really administering that nostalgia across the board.
The premise of Red Death is simple. You play as Red-001, a starship fighter who routinely finds himself embarking on dangerous missions in which he uses his ship to shoot down a wide variety of enemies. These range from tentacle monsters, giant skulls that shoot lasers, and giant floating eyeballs (some of them have bat wings).
These enemies are unforgiving, to say the least, as this game is pure bullet hell. It took me half-an-hour to get through the first stage, which is roughly about four minutes long. You can slow down your Starship with your trigger buttons, but it surprisingly didn’t help as much I thought it would. And while it was frustrating, I found the immense challenge to be a lot of fun. There are a few classic Galaga style power-ups you can acquire which can make your journey a bit easier. Unfortunately, your enemies will often still best you all the same. This is a game that’s intentionally hard.
Where Red Death shines is in its visuals and overall color palette. They’re nostalgic and beautiful with an equally retro soundtrack to compliment them. The games 16-bit graphics are glorious and rather explosive for how simplistic they are. The developers really gave it their all in invoking a sense of danger in a 2D world.
Red Death is an arcade-style game, and with that style means there are NO saves. You’re given a set amount of lives, (you can collect more in-game, accompanied by a cool robot announcer) and if you lose all of those lives, you’re back to the beginning. I initially thought this was unfair considering how hard the game is, but I ultimately respected that they really wanted me to try. I want to emphasize the difficulty here.
Red Death is a fun, difficult time with visuals that shine and a game world that invokes wonder and danger at the same time. Fans of old school bullet hell should check this one out. Rage quitters need not apply.