Paranautical Activity Review (Xbox One)
Have you ever wondered what would happen if 90s classic shooter DOOM had an illegitimate love child with rogue-like games, like the Binding of Isaac?
No? Me neither.
But alas, Digerati Distribution DID wonder this, and it’s a good thing too, because it’s a formula that works and has given birth to Paranautical Activity. On the surface, you take the fast-paced and gun-based gameplay of DOOM or Quake, where you travel swiftly through various rooms, against some B-movie horror freaks, like land sharks, fireball slinging demons and huge, flying whales. You add to that established core, the random level generation and single-life runs of a rogue-like, and you’re actually staring down a match made in heaven.
It’s a shame, then, that it doesn’t quite deliver. Paranautical Activity is good, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t live up to the standards of either genre. It’s not fast enough to play like Doom, and there isn’t enough depth or challenge to test the notoriously hardcore fans of rogue-likes.
Paranautical Activity’s graphics are a throwback to that long forgotten era of first person shooters. Everything is blocky, and you charge through room after room blowing up enemies with shotguns or grenade launchers or sickles. Defeating enemies makes them drop coins, of course, and coins are used to buy new weapons and power ups. It’s a nice touch that your Binding of Isaac style store is also in full 3D, with the weapons and upgrades floating above little plinths. Their names float in front of them, and if you move around behind the podiums, the name’s are still hanging on the other side, now written backwards.
Much like many rogue-likes, before each run you can choose a character. Each characters name, stats and weapons are laid out before you. Why ‘David Bowie’ wields a crossbow, I’m not sure, but it was the first character I decided to play as, because f*** yeah, David Bowie. The stats are a usual variety, like movement speed and health, and they vary between the few characters a decent enough amount to make each feel different. Plus, David Bowie’s crossbow is a very different combat style compared to, say, Tank and his shotgun/cannon combination.
Ultimately, Paranautical Activity is a good game. Not a great one, and certainly not one that tries to set any trends. It doesn’t reinvent the arena shooter, or breathe new life into rogue-likes, but by combining the two it offers something new and interesting. There’s decent re-playability, which is a defining trait of the rogue-like genre, and while the thumping soundtrack really irritated me at first, it grows on you. Sort of like the game itself, actually.
7 zombie demons out of 10