“Bullet hell” shooters have been raining down on us for decades. While they all have common tendencies (space-themed, side/forward-scrolling, etc.) there’s always an element of uniqueness. Today we’re reviewing Cyborg Rage, developed by Ragiva Games and published by Black Shell Media.
What makes Cyborg Rage different from many bullet shells is its difficulty level: it’s not! I’ve reviewed this genre before, and the one complaint I typically have is that the games are simply too hard for all but the most seasoned twitch/controller users. But this game is actually fair; even with a standard PC mouse. In fact, it’s the only device you’ll need to get started with the single-player storyline, or to partner up in multiplayer mode.
Upon launching the single-player campaign, the first thing you’ll notice is that your ship is accompanied by an AI wingman. Sometimes it follows you around the screen, and at other times it floats to its own drum. Either way, it’s dedicated to helping defeat enemies and advancing you to the next level.
The most important feature in the game, however, is not the endless onslaught of baddies or the big boss who appears at the end of levels. Rather it’s the orange percentage meter at the top-center of the screen. This meter is separated into three values. As you use your ship’s abilities, one or more of these values will drain to zero, climbing back up to 100 over time. Each of the three values positioned to the left, center, and right, respectively, corresponds to like buttons on your mouse (e.g.: pressing your middle mouse button will cause the middle value to drain to zero). Each button makes something different happen, depending on how far along you are in the game.
Before we discuss the button effects, let’s start with the pointing device itself. The game currently has no controller support; it’s mouse only. Just slide your cursor to move the ship to a desired location on the screen. When enemies are near, your ship (as well as that of your wingman) automatically engages in continuous pulse fire. Don’t worry, you can’t run out of ammo. Now, this is where the mouse buttons come in:
Left Button: causes extra pulse fire to exude from your ship for three seconds. This is useful against a large group of foes or a particularly nasty boss. Later, this effect upgrades to a parabolic shock wave.
Right Button: causes your ship’s shields to instantly heal to the maximum. Later, this effect upgrades to a force field that temporarily freezes enemies in place.
Middle Button: fires a missile that knocks out enemy shields. Later, this effect upgrades to an energy wave that heals the shields of both you and your wingman.
The above description of ability upgrades is true for the first few levels of the game. As you progress further, even more, interesting abilities will map themselves to your mouse buttons! For this reason, I really enjoy this title. The story is intriguing, the voice acting is good, and never knowing what new abilities await keeps me coming back. I hope that future add-ons will continue to provide creative new ways to knock out enemy forces.
So is Cyborg Rage worthwhile? Yes, it is. Priced on Steam at $5 (USD), the title is a good value. My only suggestion is to add controller support, as most bullet hells come with the expectation of such support.
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