Designed by the Argentine indie team OPQAM, Project Root was favored by a favorable process: from its birth on Kickstarter to its arrival on multiple platforms, PCs and consoles. The game remains the same, an old-fashioned top-down shooter, but with an entirely polygonal aspect that allows isometric shots. Compared to the old Japanese school choreographic shooters, there is a new open approach, obviously functional to the simple essence of the production, with even a hint of history, narrated through textual dialogues that can be read in the middle of the action. Unfortunately, these dialogues also represent one of the major problems of Project Root, but let's go in order.
Between past and future
The story sees us driving a futuristic shuttle, in the role of a heroic pilot eager to show the skills acquired during military training. Constantly flanked by a partner, the protagonist engages in a bloody battle against a mysterious corporation, leader in energy distribution in the main cities in the world. The futuristic setting is without particular artistic flashes, with a classic design that refers to the old Amiga and 16-bit productions. The modern aspect is obviously conferred by the entirely polygonal engine, which invests a large part of the resources to make a pseudo-3D feeling and satisfy the needs of the gameplay, which also develops in depth.
The shuttle is in fact able to fire both in a straight line and towards the ground, helping in this case with a fixed sight, in the style of Xevious, an old classic Namco able to startle the not so young. To tell the truth though, Project Root's inspiration seems to come from another title, Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf, from which it retrieves the freedom of movement on the map. It doesn't take long to understand that our shuttle behaves exactly like a helicopter and is a pivot on which the whole scenario revolves, a ploy very similar to old racing titles. Instead of facing hordes of enemies on an already established path, Project Root leaves us free to explore the map at will, following the objectives indicated by our assistant in the radar. These vary according to the level: in the first we limit ourselves to achieving strategic objectives to be destroyed, or eliminating power plants to break down a protective barrier, but already from the second the register expands, also contemplating the escort of a military car. In this case it becomes essential to maintain the safety of our protégé, under penalty of instant Game Over.
I'll break you in two
Project Root is a challenging title, designed to put our reflexes and skills to the test, to do this OPQAM has pressed the accelerator at alarming speeds, making our shuttle, at least initially, inadequate to contain enemy attacks. The levels are particularly crowded, both in the sky and on the ground, with a large number of shuttles, crawlers and turrets capable of spitting a disturbing volume of fire on us. The bullets are wasted on the screen, often confusing with ours, making it essentially impossible to avoid them in certain situations and weighing dangerously on our shields.
The most important problem is the position of the shuttle, forcibly moved towards the bottom of the screen to aid orientation, but too close to the edge to effectively prevent bullets coming from behind. As if that weren't enough, the excessively classic setting forces you to restart the stage once the three available lives are exhausted (but they can be increased), a more suitable choice for a concise and frenetic title, less so in an open that can take away from the thirty to forty minutes per level. After the initial bewilderment for such a punitive approach, we begin to understand how the keystone is to exploit the rotation of the frame to one's advantage, in addition to the rigorous cleaning of everything that appears on the screen - ignoring the enemies leads to almost certain death - and the diligent collection of power ups released from enemy carcasses. These are able to give us special shots but above all the restoration of energy, advantages thanks to which it is possible to conquer a certain margin of recovery in a system that is however extremely unstable and frustrating. In general, the purpose described at the beginning of the paragraph fails, Project Root fails to stimulate the player to improve their skills, as it only ends up affecting their patience.
Project Root enriches the spirit of the classic shooter with hints of the open world
Xbox One achievements
Project Root has 21 objectives for a total of 1000 player points, the first to be part of your precious collection will be "Baby", which requires the simple completion of the tutorial at the beginning of the game, you just can't miss it. The rest represent a considerable challenge, such as completing the various stages without losing a life (good luck) or with the higher difficulty levels.
The above problems certainly do not find an ally in the technical aspect, which unfortunately denounces the indie origins of the project. The graphics engine is clean thanks to the 1080p resolution and the use of sixty frames per second, but the frame rate is subject to heavy slowdowns during the most crowded phases and large explosions. The sound accompaniment is really bad, limited to a few uninspiring and inspired pieces. The title also suffers from several graphical glitches, such as shuttles that fit into the scenario, an eventuality that also affects our pilot and that almost always translates into dramatic situations that will lead to the outcome that you should have understood by now during this review: restart the level from the beginning. Another problem, as already mentioned before, is represented by the reduced size of the texts for the dialogues, relegated to the lower right corner of the screen., are almost illegible as they are important for the understanding of the objectives assigned by our assistant, risking to fatally expose us - in a desperate attempt to read them - to enemy fire. Perseverance, as often happens, helps, once the boss at the end of the level, always quite spectacular, has been killed, you have the opportunity to upgrade the ship, thanks to the experience points earned. The levels can be repeated several times, with three different degrees of difficulty, in order to accumulate points and further improve resources. Completely absent the online modes.
CommentTested version Xbox One Digital Delivery Steam, PlayStation Store, Xbox Store Price 9,99 € Resources4Gaming.com
Project Root is not a superficial title, OPQAM has looked to great masters for its realization, putting a lot of flour of its own sack to enrich the spirit of the classic shooter with hints of the open world. The result, however, is too discontinuous due to the many defects, both graphic and game design, which make everything difficult and frustrating. The effort invested to propose a challenging product has resulted in an unnecessarily nerve-wracking experience, where perseverance only partially helps. Maybe a corrective patch aimed at smoothing out the gameplay could improve things, but at the moment we find it difficult to recommend the purchase of this title, even if at a rather reduced price.
- 1080p and 60 frames per second
- Interesting open structure
- Some valuable ideas
- Bugs and slowdowns
- Bad music
- Frustrating and badly balanced