RotoSchutzen. I gave the name a deep look and ended up having a puzzled expression plastered all over my face exclaiming “RotoSchutzen? What in the hell is this going to be?” Asking myself that question in the beginning made the answer all the better.
An Xbox Live Indie game from the developer of Bytown Lumberjack that we tackled here not too long ago, it keeps with the 2D side-scrolling essence, but Deery translated that into a game that melds not only that but also a twin-stick shooter with some puzzles tossed in for good measure. Deery himself compares the game to the titles PixelJunk Shooter and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, and I don’t think he’s too far from the mark.
Being an Indie Game, I went into it expecting only so much. That’s not a put down by any means, I just don’t have the same expectations from a guy programming a game in his free time versus a multi-million dollar company with teams of people devoted to devising new shoe designs and shoe physics for an NPC that graces the screen for 30 seconds. I go into an XBLIG expecting to at least enjoy myself, and I did just that with RotoSchutzen.
While not the longest game on the planet (not by any means), this short and fun romp will at least keep you going. Players take control of some sort of…flying contraption that I assume is the aforementioned RotoSchutzen itself. You know, roto for rotor/flying and schuzten for shooter, but that’s a different discussion altogether. The sole purpose of the game is to guide this little machine from the start, Point A, through the maze-like game until the end, Point B, is reached where a large button must be mashed. Simple right?
Along the way expect to come up against turrets, mines, and those pesky puzzles will attempt to block your way. But hey, you can shoot stuff! Using the twin-stick shooter design, players can use the cannon on the bottom of the machine to shoot at the turrets, which blow up, and mines, which will swing wildly on their leash. Unlike most twin-stick shooters, you get about a 45˚ angle focused solely below the machine, so it’s best to be more above the offending enemy than anywhere. Just watch out for those turrets – they’re surprisingly accurate and I found myself getting destroyed very quickly and quite easily during my playthroughs. The shells/bullets/explode-y thingys from both the turrets and your machine are all affected by gravity, and it is very neat to watch them up and arc back down to the ground. While dodging both those and the mines, players will occasionally have to push buttons and dodge environmental traps (spikes and steam that shoves you around into spikes) in order to progress further and further. And that’s it. Like I said, it’s a simple game. Thankfully dying doesn’t truly set you back – instead a door opens and out pops another machine. No messing around with lives or health bars, just simple, fun gameplay.
During my playthroughs of the game, what got me most was not the simple, yet effectively, gameplay, but instead the environment and lighting within the game. Looking at the background of the game, it seems as if your machine and the various obstacles in your path, as well as the path itself, are set within a much larger world. The literature analyst within me wants to sit down and tell you all that the game’s cartoony feel and design makes it seem as though it’s all some kid playing in the dirt and imagining the game in his head, but who cares – the game has some great visuals. Everything is bright, colorful, and fun for an XBLIG and it just adds more character to the overall game.
But the color, the gameplay, the roto-ing, and (most importantly) schutzen-ing only goes so far. What this game really lacks is just “more.” It’s too short, and while I can’t truly fault the game for this, I would have liked more to play. After finishing that first playthrough and ending up back on the main menu rather quickly, I was left going “oh, that’s all?” in disappointment. The game drew me in quickly and ended even faster, leaving me wanting. It is a nice tactic if Deery plans on releasing more things later, but damnit I want more now!
Note: The RotoSchutzen review was written based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.