In Case You Missed It: Velocity 2X

By Kevin Tavore, 4 months ago
Recently we've begun a new series as a successor to our older Easter Eggs series called In Case You Missed It. For our first article, we covered Lords of the Fallen. In July, I wrote the second piece which focused on Lo Wang's adventures in Shadow Warrior.

Today, our third entry in the series has finally arrived and it's over a true gem you probably missed: Velocity 2X. Developed by FuturLab Games, it's a sequel to a Sony exclusive title called Velocity Ultra. I won't be surprised to hear you say you've never heard of Velocity 2X - when I started writing this article, I realized that practically nowhere was the Xbox One version of this game discussed across the internet. That is a tragedy I intend to right today. So let's get started - you missed this game, so why should you come back to it now?

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The Basics

Velocity 2X stars Kai, a human who pilots what's known as a Quarp Jet. The Quarp Jet is a unique space ship that hosts firepower in the form of lasers and bombs and, more importantly, has the ability to teleport in any direction very quickly. Kai and her ship are central to the gameplay in Velocity 2X. In her ship, the game is a vertical scrolling shoot'em up. On the ground, Kai runs with the best of them as a horizontal scrolling platformer. These two concepts mesh together into one quite seamlessly as two pillars that support the core concept of the game: speed.

The game is all about speed. In her ship, Kai will need to boost quickly and use her teleport efficiently to traverse the map. The map will be full of walls and locked sections that Kai will need to work around, unlock, and then move through quickly. Weapon powerups can be found to eliminate enemies more quickly and, as the game progresses, Kai will earn new abilities to expand her ship's capabilities. For instance, one upgrade allows you to drop a beacon anywhere that you can later open up the map and return to. This allows you to backtrack to previously locked areas and move through them. Ultimately, the goal is simply to get through the areas as fast as possible.

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On foot, Kai also focuses on speed. If you're thinking this sounds like Sonic the Hedgehog, you are fortunately wrong. Sonic has a kind of chaotic beauty to his speed. Whenever I played it, I was more often than not running blindly hoping I wasn't about to hit an enemy that was slightly out of place. Velocity 2X is instead much more deliberate. You'll move very fast, but the layouts are simpler and navigating them even for the first time is intuitive. So you'll be moving fast, but you'll never be hurling yourself headlong into the unknown.

These mechanics come together for 61 levels of content ranging from simple to highly complex and almost maze-like. If you want, you can play through the levels fairly casually and complete them all just to see what the game has to offer. If you prefer a challenge, you can work on scoring Perfects, which are given to those that master a level. In this way, the game is accessible to everyone and capable of providing plenty of replayability if you enjoy the game, and oh will you enjoy it.

The Hook

I won't lie. I had a hard time coming up with the hook for this game. It's not that I couldn't figure out why I like it and what makes it special. It's just that this game is nearly perfect at everything it tries to be. It's rare that we see a game so in touch with its identity, where all the mechanics work together toward that singular goal. I could have written this section in a hundred different ways, one for each element of the game. Ultimately though, one thing about the game really stood out above all else: the flow.

For a game that's all about speed, flow is important. No one would have played Mirror's Edge if you were constantly stopped due to bad game design. Likewise, this game wouldn't be any good if you were constantly having to stop to perform bulky changes of direction or strange actions. A game like this needs to move like a river, and Velocity 2X has a lot more in common with the Nile than a stagnant pond.

You'll need to move through this area super quick!You'll need to move through this area super quick!

The basic level design is some of the best in the business. In the game, your goal is to get to the finish line. The finish line is often blocked by colored areas you cannot enter until you have it unlocked. To unlock those areas, you need to find numbered triggers and attack them with guns or bombs in ascending numeric value. That probably sounds cumbersome and it certainly would be if the level design was poor. But in Velocity 2X, you're almost always moving forward. The levels are made with sharp lines that subtly guide you in the correct direction without thought. On the vast majority of levels, you can begin for the first time and simply more forward and you will make it to the end despite many twists and turns. The levels are not a maze.

Now I will admit that some of the later levels do get complicated. If you're rushing and not paying attention at all, these can even get a bit confusing. However, these maps still guide you in generally the right direction. The game always tells you when you need to drop a teleporter so that you know exactly where you'll need to eventually backtrack. The game isn't a puzzle. If you get confused, you can always pop open your map, which will highlight where you need to go next so you can quickly get back into the action. As well, subsequent playthroughs eradicate any confusion that may have existed at first thanks to each of these levels having a specific pattern. It's very easy to get used to these patterns, even subconsciously, so you'll be zooming through even the large levels with ease after just a couple attempts.

One of the few bullet hell moments in the game - it lasts about a second.One of the few bullet hell moments in the game - it lasts about a second.

But level design is only one element to a game with good flow. You also need the gameplay mechanics to be intuitive, quick, and responsive. Velocity 2X nails this. Teleporting is quick and seamless. You can quickly return to your last teleport by double tapping cn_Y, and the levels are designed so that returning to the most recent is almost always the right choice. Even on foot where teleporters can be thrown it's usually a quick endeavor and the level makes it very clear exactly where to go.

Also important is the flow of the difficulty, and the developers have done a marvelous job here. As I played through the base game's original 50 levels, I always felt prepared for what was ahead of me. Never once did I feel that a level was significantly easier or harder than the one before it. Each level was perfect preparation for the one before it. Even the boss battles challenge you to use everything you've learned thus far to master the level. During my entire playthrough I was never frustrated by over- or under-preparation. The difficulty curve is perfect. It flows.

Ultimately, all these elements come together to make a game that succeeds at what it tries to be: a game about speed. That sense of speed comes from the game's perfect flow. Every action leads to the next in a way that's so intuitive it comes naturally. You can see for your self in the YouTube video below. I know it's going to look ridiculously fast, but I promise by the time you get to this level, you'll be more than prepared to conquer it!


The Achievements

Velocity 2X boasts 50 achievements and you'll need to play every bit of the game to get them all. A few are story-related for beating all 50 levels in the base game. Then there's achievements for the two DLC packs (well, they were DLC on PS4 - they're part of the main game on Xbox but still in a separate menu). A small sample of miscellaneous achievements and two collectible achievements (which are fairly easy thanks to the linear levels) round out the achievements you'd expect for any game. Velocity 2X also has a bonus puzzle minigame which has a few achievements - it's fun and should be no trouble at all. But this is a game about speed, so you knew this was coming. You'll need to score Perfect on every level in the game. This is a real challenge and you'll need to to be blisteringly fast and efficient in every single level. To get a Perfect, you really do need to be pretty much Perfect. That said, thanks to the game's difficultly curve, you'll always be ready for the next level and Perfects will come quickly.

The Stats

Velocity 2X has a meager 690 tracked gamers, a number so low I'm almost offended considering how amazing the game is. Of those 690, 20 people have completed it. For completing the game, you'll get 1,000GS worth 3,400TA.

The TA community has scored the game 4.2 out of 5 and the Metacritic sits at 86. While TA never did a review for the game, our sister site TrueTrophies gave it a stellar 4.5 out of 5 in their official review. In addition, the game scored multiple indie game of the year awards when it released in 2014 for PS4.

The Price

As a digital game, there are not a whole lot of options on the price. You can get the game on the Xbox Store for $19.99 USD or your typical regional equivalent. It's also included as part of the Sierra Games Collection which includes Chapter 1 from King's Quest: The Complete Collection, Shiftlings, and Geometry Wars³: Dimensions for $59.99 USD. Neither the game nor the bundle have been on sale since the end of year sale back in December.

The Verdict

In case it wasn't already clear, I think Velocity 2X is utterly amazing. It's my pick for best indie game on Xbox One by a rather large margin. With its clear focus on its core concept and each element of the gaming working directly toward that purpose, the game is fully aware of its own identity and it really works. If this game sounds even remotely like something you might like, you owe it to yourself to give this game a shot. You missed it once, but now there's no excuse to miss it again. I guarantee it'll be one of the best indie games you've ever played.
Kevin Tavore
Written by Kevin Tavore
Purveyor of news articles and the occasional walkthrough or op-ed. The American equivalent of Aristotle. Likes almost all genres but has an unhealthy aversion to exploration and puzzles. Nicest place he'd never want to go? Japan.