Escape from the Universe
Developed By : CAT-astrophe Games
Published By : CAT-astrophe Games
Category : Arcade, Action
Release Date : Aug 16, 2019
Welcome to the future, and a sci-fi story that’s been told many times before. Earth has been destroyed, and most of humanity with it. The bits of humanity that survived have been scattered through the universe, attempting to extend that survival as long as possible. In Escape from the Universe on the Nintendo Switch, you jump into the role of a pilot who was born after Earth’s destruction, on a mission to explore the universe and find some answers. Answers to life, answers to what remains of humanity…answers to anything that he can find at all.
To help you on your exploration, you will always have access to a map of the universe, specifically down to the galaxies that you know of and visit. Each galaxy will have a number of points to indicate your missions, as well as a sidebar denoting if the quest you’re hovering on is a main quest for the plot, a side quest, or an opportunity to unlock a new adventure in another system.
When you go on your missions, you’ll be tasked with one of three objectives : Reach Destination, Defeat Enemies, or Chase someone down. Each one will have a very distinct feel from the others, and especially in how I approached playing them. And it’s an snap judgement that I came to regret, after getting used to how Escape handled itself.
The game is a side-screen shooter to it’s core, and it plays almost exactly like every other similar title you’ve played before. What’s slightly unique to this title is it’s speed system, allowing you to go faster or slower. However, what is completely unique is how this system is used. Most games that I’ve played before allow you to move forward and backward in a certain window-area of the screen, the more forward you are the faster things move, and the more back you are the slower it goes. This game operates under the same thing, except you can move alllllllllllll the way to the very right side of the screen, which means you’ll be moving extremely fast but won’t have much time to react if an enemy or hazard comes on the screen.
Back to the missions, though. Destination missions will make you want to dash through the level as fast as possible. Just be aware that there are plenty of walls, flying objects, and enemies to be in your way. Eliminate Enemies is another one that the objective is just as it sounds. You’ll have more bad guys than obstacles to contend with in these levels, and a greater percentage of them will be firing at you instead of just flying in the opposite direction.
Both of those types of levels can be mildly fun, but it’s the last one, the chases, that were the most fun for me. Broken down into two segments, in these levels you’ll need to fly after someone and get close enough that you’ll have caught them in a small bubble. After, you’ll need to navigate to the end, making the second part a Destination objective, with both you and your catpor’s ships intact.
Completing missions and objectives will earn you credits, the in-game currency. With these you can do various things such as purchase upgrades for your ships armor and weapons, you can unlock new adventures in other systems, and you’ll be able to take advantage of options to continue if you die during the levels. Generally, the individual levels are pretty short, but multiple of these levels chained together are what make up each point on the star-map, some ending in boss fights. So there are benefits to using the continues, with the downside being your loss of credits.
Visually, Escape from the Universe had me nervous going into playing it. I loved the style of graphics, all the lines lending themselves through the shapes to add dimensions that weren’t actually there. What had me nervous though was the colors, specifically the pink. The last game of this style that I had played using a pink of that nature left me feeling blind and with a headache. It was a big (and pleasant) surprise when I fired up the first level, squinting at first, only to see that colors in here were much more flat. They were there just to represent things in the game, not to over-enhance a visual pop.
Pleasant colors aside, though, Escape was an underwhelming experience for me. It was really fun at first, but the minimal offerings of mission types got stale before i even made it out of the first system to discover a new adventure. Between levels, you are given a bunch of text to fill in the story and this was enjoyable too. And going back to the colors for a moment, I liked how there were only a few, and they specifically represented things such as what could be destroyed (pink), what was permanent and would destroy you in an instant (green) and everything else (gray). It’s a well thought out narrative, and the way it’s done is pretty fun, but I would much rather a visual novel approach instead of sub-par levels ruining a great story.