Zotrix is an arcade shoot ’em up that resembles the likes of Galaga and Space Invaders. The gameplay is close to other games in its genre, but outside of gameplay, there is a bit more going on. Outside of shooting the alien menace known as the Zotrix, you’ll be traversing different outposts and gathering resources to better upgrade your ship. The game is a fun arcade shooter, but it is bogged down by technical issues and a terrible interface that is frustrating to use.
Two modes round out the Zotrix experience: Arcade and Story. The Arcade Mode pits you against ever increasing levels of enemies to see how long you can last. At the end of each level you can buy an upgrade to help you survive longer. Once all lives are lost, that’s it. It is a nice diversion, but mostly you’ll be playing the game’s Story Mode. The colony on Mars has been overrun by the alien menace, the Zotrix. You are humanity’s best chance to rid the galaxy of terror. To help other outposts in the galaxy survive, you need to guard transport vessels between different routes to other outposts. Helping guide transport vessels between outposts doesn’t mean it’s an escort mission. The vessels appear on screen, but don’t take damage or help you in combat. Clearing a particular route means the vessel has arrived safely. The reward for completing a route are credits (the currency in the game), and various materials that can be bought or sold in the in-game resource trading menu for more credits. These resources are used to upgrade your ship with better equipment. Upgrades can be bought in an equipment store, and the stock of what is on sale differs from outpost to outpost. Some upgrades are permanent, such as a new ship, extra blasters, or drones, while other upgrades are one-time use items, such as a decoy or bomb. I found saving my credits and resources for permanent upgrades to be much more useful, as the one-time use items don’t offer anything substantial. However some of the items I bought outright crashed the game when I tried to use them. There is a decent range of items available, if you can get them to work.
Traversing through different routes is a means to an end to complete a quest. Quests are given to you by various commanders of the colonies and they offer some backstory to the situation, but what really matters is what routes they tell you to take to complete a quest. Some quests require two or three routes to complete. When at an outpost, there can be several different routes to take to get to another outpost, but it doesn’t matter too much as only a certain route will lead you to completing a quest. At times a route may be too difficult, leading you to take a detour and replay other routes you’ve already completed in order to get the resources you need to better your ship. There are over 50 missions in the game that will keep you busy for a while.
Gameplay is very similar to other arcade shooters, as you’ll move around the screen and avoid enemy fire. Two additional upgrades are available for pickup in each route, increasing your ship’s firepower. Five lives are given to you in each route, but the ship can take damage from enemy fire before losing a life. Once a life is lost, you lose one of the firepower upgrades. When firing, the sound effect can be very repetitive, and can become very annoying. I recommend turning the sound effects down in the options menu to save your sanity. Pressing L3 or R3 while in gameplay can lower your ship to avoid enemy fire for a short time. It can make the game a little too easy at times, and almost feels like a crutch rather than a gameplay option.
Clearly, the menu and interface in the game was built for a mouse and keyboard. It is difficult to navigate each of the several menus. With a game that relies on navigating menus to find new routes, trade resources, or buy upgrades, it is frustrating to use and at times I felt it almost wasn’t worth it. When you get far enough in the game, you’ll need to traverse several menus at a time just to accomplish what you want. Technical issues also plague the game. In addition to the game crashing when using an item, music and sound effects can just randomly cut out. What is worse is when sound cuts out, the game goes into an infinite save/load screen when completing the level. You will need to exit out of the game and pray that the game saved, or your time in that level has just been wasted. At the end of most routes is a boss battle, they are fun encounters, but are ruined by framerate issues. Occasionally, there can be so much happening on screen that the game slows to a crawl. If there is something nice to say about the presentation, it is that the music is pretty good, given the music doesn’t suddenly cut out.
Some enjoyment can be found in Zotrix, if you can get past all of the technical issues that plague the game. However if that doesn’t ruin the experience, the menu interface sure will. It can ruin all enjoyment of the game. The more I played of Zotrix, the less I enjoyed it. Perhaps a patch in the future fixes the technical issues with the game, but best of luck navigating the user interface.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Resource trading
- Multiple routes
What I Dislike:
- Game-crashing items
- Framerate drops
- Terrible menus
- Sound cutting out