In this, my latest epic review, I will be doing several things different. First of all for everyone who doesn't want to read a short novel filled with vulgarities and insulting metaphors, I will share a basic rundown of my righteous judgement at the start to save your time. Do I recommend Stellatum? If you are like me and you bought this expecting it to be good, first of all my condolences go out to your wallet, you can take comfort in knowing it is an easy, if boring, completion. Simply try to catch up on some podcasts while you grind it out, that's what I did. To everyone else let me spell it out, capital N O period backspace exclamation point. Politely speaking, no, I do not recommend.
This marks the beginning of my multipart expose on Euroshmups in the modern era. I usually only write reviews for games that stay in my head after shutting them off. This game really broke me within the first few minutes, so much so that I'm going to drag another one through the mud next. I decided I need to do this but my conscience said to me "hey didn't you promise you were going to only review games you like?" which really forced me to do some soul searching. In the end I've compromised and decided to use games I hate as a stepping stone to talk about games I really enjoyed.
Chapter I; The Phantom Menace
Stellatum is a twin stick shooter, it is also a vertically scrolling shooter. These two design choices don't mix very well. Twin stick shooters tend to stick to an arena format for good reason, to take advantage of the players ability to aim in 360 degrees. Stellatum makes the bold decision to send 100% of it's enemies from the top of the screen, rendering the need for aiming with the right stick pointless. Stellatum features 50 levels you need to complete as well as dozens of extra levels you should just ignore. The key to survival is powering up your ship between levels in your space garage.
Allow me to describe my experience during the first 15 stages. My weaponry is drastically underpowered, inertia drags my ship all over the place making precision dodging impossible. Luckily my hitbox is gigantic so dodging is basically impossible anyways. My bullets cancel out the enemy fire, but the enemy never stops firing, especially the one that looks like a metal octopus spread eagled. Hard to kill those or even move when they put 7 on screen at a time. Still haven't got a game over despite taking hundreds of hits per stage, obviously have a life bar but the HUD is so tiny I don't bother figuring it out. Still haven't got any good weapon power ups. Little ball enemies start showing up in groups of ten at a time that fire lasers nonstop directly at my ship, have to keep moving or get hit 12 times instantaneously. Am I able to die? Hilarious stage design, every enemy targets my ship, so when I move left they all move left, I move right they move right. It's like the eyes of a painting in a haunted house. Every stage feels like a Sunday drive with grandpa, can we please hit the gas once in a while.
Finally after the first boss I get some new weapons that aren't complete trash. For the next 25 levels I couldn't tell you what enemy attacks look like because they all were annihilated before they could put up a fight.
I did game over once when my ship got caught in the scenery and kept respawning below the screen unable to move.
Time to break this down categorically.
Stellatum to the untrained eye masquerades as an arcade game, if you pay attention though the soundtrack gives away the developers true intentions. Stellatum forgoes the melody and exciting anthems typical of the genre in favor of something more "epic". Think Quantum Break. The soundtrack echoes the most generic of movie and game scores and quickly becomes redundant, repetitive and ultimately unwelcome. As a positive I was able to listen to 10 hours worth of podcasts to keep me distracted during the gameplay.
Stellatum will not light your eyeballs on fire. In typical Euroshmup fashion the star field in the background always looks nice, but everything else could have used more attention. This game is the greyest thing you will ever lay eyes on.
I suppose I've covered this already but to hammer it home a little more succinctly... Stellatum is boring and lacks anything resembling fun or excitement. The developers decided to double down on every trope of the Euroshmup and the results are predictably disastrous. Too many stages, no challenge, no precision and above all no point to even playing.
In conclusion. In 2019 for 18 Canadian dollars this product is insulting. In this "current year" there is no excuse for releasing a game in this state. On a side note, I'm not even sure if Satur Entertainment is based in Europe, my 15 minutes of research led to a brick wall. Regardless of where it was developed, the question remains, is Stellatum a Euroshmup? Yes, and it is one of the best examples in a decade. You have been warned. If you want to fly a spaceship and shoot at stuff, you have literally thousands of better choices.
Coming soon, Part 2. Something much worse?