Cadenza Interactive—the same studio behind the popular tower defense game Sol Survivor—brings us Retrovirus, a six-axis, free flying, first-person shooter that has the look of something straight out of the TRON universe with hints of Portal corresponding to its various characters. You play as an antivirus agent and your goal is to protect the home system from any viruses that may enter it.
You start off by facing out towards the desktop from the computer you are in. Off in the hills, represented by the desktop, appears a giant worm-like creature that is headed straight towards you. As it goes through the desktop, it promptly burrows into the mechanical environment near you while you are simultaneously spoken to by a program known as Oracle, which incidentally acts as your guide throughout the game. She informs you a worm has infiltrated your sanctum and you must eradicate this worm and discover its origins. You may be asking yourself: how on Earth will I combat such a thing? Well, that’s where your interesting and fun arsenal of weaponry comes into play.
The enemies include from clingers, slashers, corrupted civilians, and corruptions. Corruption is far more prevalent, as it is directly left behind by the worm wherever it goes. Frankly, corruption is quite fun to kill. It’s purple, it’s disgusting, and it makes a somewhat satisfying *splursh* sound when it dies. Right from the beginning, your arsenal includes a weapon named Dual Strike. This acts as your standard double cannon-type firearm.As the game progresses, you obtain various types of weapons such as the Interrupt and the Thrash Spray; the Interrupt being very similar to a shotgun and the Thrash Spray gets the job done like any other minigun.
Your secondary ability besides shooting is scanning. Scanning is extremely helpful as it highlights all hostiles in your environment. Activating scan sends a circular pulse in the direction you are facing. Any hostile entities it comes into contact with will be outlined in red, which allows you to see them through walls; friendly programs and objects of interest will have their description appear right above them. You may charge up scan, which gives you a significantly broader detection rather than just what the pulse effect hits in front. This helped me tremendously in figuring out where I wanted to go to lure enemies towards me safely rather than just clumsily running into them. Interestingly, scan has the ability to interact with your weapons. Whenever you shoot at something, objects or hostiles, the ammunition—otherwise known as cycles—leaves particles behind. These particles, when scanned, have a different effect depending on which weapon you were wielding, with more particles causing a larger effect. Some effects include explosions, gravitational pulls, and knockback effects; these can be quite useful if utilized effectively.
Getting around may be a bit disorienting at first, giving players full freedom in their movement unlike traditional, grounded FPS games. A tilting mechanic allows your Agents vision to lean left or right respectively to annihilate those pesky viruses from around corners. Your Agent can carry three cycle canisters, which act as magazines for all of your weapons, and three health canisters that heal you overtime when activated. Boosting propels you in any direction you’re travelling to help you reach your destination much quicker or to help you escape from enemies. Throughout the game, you will meet several programs which make for some interesting characters. A lot of them are corrupted and have been driven mad in the process, which makes for some funny dialogue with Oracle. They reminded me a lot of the personality spheres from Portal. Puzzles are abundant as you must try to find keys to get to power-ups or to advance further in the campaign.
As you progress, you will find several collectible items which include emails and spam mails. Emails provide backstory to where the worm might have come from and a general storyline from the computer’s user; spam mail is exactly what you would expect it to be. Experience, measured in megabytes and kilobytes, determine when you may “update” via three skill trees which include Optimize, Analyse, and Debug. Optimize focuses more on mobility and increases speed, Analyse takes the more direct approach of damage and firing rate, and Debug is a bit more on the tanky side while increasing health.
While not too overly complicated, Retrovirus does a great job of delivering a fresh shooter that may bring back memories of older games for many people, appropriately living up to the “retro” in its title. For only $20, Retrovirus is a great choice if you’re looking for an action-packed, indie shooter. Fly wherever you want, desolate viral scum, and discover a cool mechanical world! No longer will I look at my antivirus software the same way. Somewhere within my computer, there’s an antivirus agent actively standing guard against invasive viral infections. At least, that is what I tell myself now.
- $20 for hours of entertainment
- Fun array of weaponry
- Cool and colorful mechanical world
- Good soundtrack
- Freedom flying system may be a bit disorienting at first
- Shooting may become a bit repetitive for some
Available on: PC; Publisher: Cadenza Interactive; Developer: Cadenza Interactive; Players: 1 – 4; Released: January 31, 2013; ESRB: NA; MSRP: $19.99; Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.