This game isn’t like what you see every day. Cadenza Interactive’s work in progress Retrovirus is a first-person shooter with six degrees of freedom. That means that there is no gravity, and no up or down, simply directions to go in. You control an antivirus inside of a computer, and you traverse a trail of wreckage which is left behind after a worm infiltrates and literally bores a hole in the interior of the computer.
The theme of the game is interesting, to say the least. The setting is a ‘physical’ manifestation of what the inner workings of a computer would look like on a firmware and software level, possibly with hardware mixed in as well. The environment looks very cybernetic, but the viruses that you fight appear as organic lifeforms, and prominently throughout the levels you’ll see what looks like rocks and concrete mixed in.
These elements might seem to clash, but they actually don’t, the rocky walls and rubble somehow manage to blend quite well with the shiny futuristic computer stuff. It kind of makes sense for the viruses to be like living creatures, it fits with the theme that they don’t belong. The visual touch of a virtual overgrowth of organic things which are breaking up the artificial things is pretty interesting from an artistic perspective.
The game looks nice, basically, and it’s got some unique visuals which instantly set it apart from other games. What you get is much more than what you’d expect from a project in it’s alpha stages. The gameplay itself is nothing to scoff at either. Taking it’s inspiration from the classic PC game Descent, it can be a little mind blowing for anybody who hasn’t played a game like this before.
Due to the lack of gravity, shooting weapons doesn’t have any ‘weight’ to it, but the part where a game like this would really shine would be with a vast array of weapons. This alpha demo has 3 weapons, including a gatling gun and a rocket launcher. For the guns that shoot bullets, it’s much easier to hit enemies, and they leave small spheres on everything which they hit. You can scan the spheres before they disappear, and they will explode for extra damage.
The rocket launcher is very difficult to be accurate with, as the enemies tend to move around quite a bit and the rockets are slow. I only noticed three kinds of enemies in the demo. One enemy would shoot projectiles at you, another one would crawl on surfaces and jump on you, and the last one was so scary that I would kill it before it accomplished anything. In large open rooms it can be challenging to evade attacks, and while the demo itself isn’t difficult, I have a feeling that the game in it’s finished state will be much more trying.
The voice acting is alright, it’s nothing revolutionary but it’s also not something that will likely annoy you as you play through the game. It seems like an effort to give the game more character underneath its stylish cybernetic shell, but it doesn’t seem to work too well. Though to be fair, it’s kinda hard to give a computer personality.
Other than that, there’s not much to say about this alpha demo of Retrovirus. In it’s current state, it is a very simple game. You fly through corridors and shoot enemies or destroy obstacles to progress, finding keys to unlock doors and appreciating the sights there are to see along the way. It’s definitely worth a try, especially for something which aims to be a revival of the six-axis shooter.