Habroxia Review: A Functional but Middling Retro Shmup

by David Sanchez September 30, 2019 @ 7:06 am

Reviewed on PlayStation 4

Since the days of arcades, the shoot ’em up has managed to evolve in some really cool ways. Shooters like Galak-Z and Sine Mora implement unique gameplay elements that either change the way you think while playing or present you with different ways to play. Other times, they remain true to the classic shoot ’em up formula while providing an exciting level of challenge to keep you engaged. Habroxia, unfortunately, does neither. That’s not to say it’s a bad game, but it’s certainly middling and doesn’t strive to present much longevity outside its initial 75-minute run time.

An Average Tribute to the Old Days

For what it’s worth, Habroxia works as a game. It’s functional, it’s not buggy, and it’s totally playable. In other words, it’s a game. That said, it doesn’t go above and beyond what’s expected — or rather, what was expected decades ago — of the shoot ’em up genre.

The biggest issue with Habroxia is that it’s not all that challenging, which in turn means it’s not very fun to play. Across it’s 15 levels, you’re tasked with shooting all the things — only the things don’t really pose a challenge to you.

Each level is basically the same. There are a couple stages that try to change things up by switching from horizontal to vertical scrolling, and while I appreciate the change in layout, it’s ultimately just more of the same. Even the levels that task you with saving stranded astronauts in between all the shooting don’t deviate much from the basic formula.

There are a couple mini-bosses and big bosses thrown in for good measure, but these hardly pose a threat. All you really need to do is hold down the fire button and dodge their incoming fire, which is super easy to do.

Habroxia attempts to provide a bit of variety by giving you three different types of shots and pick-ups such as laser beams and missiles, but these power-ups never feel significant. On top of that, the game’s upgrade system, which you mess around with prior to each stage by using in-game currency that’s dropped by enemies, only serves to make the experience even more of a cake walk.

There are three unlockable modes in Habroxia, but they don’t extend the game’s life much, if at all. Invasion is your average endless mode. Rescue tasks you with going around and picking up astronauts. And Shield Maiden forces you to play with weak weapons, which you’d think would provide you with the challenge you’re looking for but is actually just a stale alternate mode.

Maybe a Tad too Retro?

I think the biggest problem with Habroxia is that it follows too early of a shmup formula. Rather than being inventive, it’s boring and unoriginal. While I did enjoy the super-retro graphics, the game’s overly simplistic gameplay design is a huge problem. And the lack of difficulty made playing through it a total slog. The game doesn’t really get challenging until about the eleventh stage, and even then that challenge is sporadic.

I’m a sucker for retro-styled action games, and I was excited to play Habroxia because it looked like a throwback to arcade and NES classics like Asteroids and R-Type. It may very well have been influenced by those titles, but it certainly doesn’t match up to their standards. With so many much more entertaining shoot ’em ups available right now, it’s hard to recommend Habroxia. Even if you’re specifically looking for a simpler experience, there are far superior options out there.

Score: 5 out of 10

Follow this author on .