Xbox Indie is awash with shoot-em-up games. If XBLA doesn’t provide a flurry of SHMUPS then the independent scene will. The latest of these games to release from CrimsinRaven who bring us the unique art styled Paper Sky. The game features 2 player offline co-operative which gives it an advantage over other shooters in the saturated arena but that is the only advantage.
Paper Sky’s biggest draw is the art style there is no doubt about that. It looks very pretty. It’s almost as if it’s a collaged sugar paper layering in which the game graphically is principled upon. Throughout the levels the scenery changes from forestry, sea and garden areas to bring together a level progression that doesn’t bore from the visual side. However, visuals aside Paper Sky is extremely average and un-inspiring. It has the staying power of the Tunisian prime minister during the riots. Under scrutiny the game holds up about as well as a tent in a gale force wind and there is a reason for that, it’s genuinely as exciting as filling in a tax return form.
Why does the game fail to ignite? Firstly the XP system cuts out after each death, this means that any extra speed or manoeuvrability you gained by staying alive is immediately wiped out. You may say this justifies staying alive as long as possible as you are rewarded but on the same coin the background texture moves from right to left at such a slow pace that any sense of speed is not realised. Another problem with the game is the projectiles emitted from your enemies, most of the time enemies bullets appear to travel towards you like cheese sperm, and if you don’t believe me just look at the screenshots. You do have access to a special weapon which seems to be a turbo button fire stream of coloured bullets but once again you never feel empowered by the special ability and it never really cuts through the bosses like you’d expect.
End level bosses are a matter of shooting the shit out of and some of these are poorly drawn, the UFO for instance appears to have been molested by Uri Geller. All of the power-ups ascertained from drops in the game also do little to bring excitement to the experience, all of them lack the bangs and whistles required to make them worthwhile collecting. It’s an interesting attempt at a SHMUP, however it failed to do what Platypus did and create a unique looking shooter whilst also being a joy to play. Unfortunately we cannot recommend this game, not even with the multiplayer.