Fluid action, superb presentation and a real challenge. Velocity 2X has it all and more!
Sometimes a game comes along that instantly sparks your interest. This doesn't happen as much as I would like, but Velocity 2X was something I knew I had to play when I stumbled upon it. I played the first levels at Gamescom 2018, where I realized that Velocity 2X is a game I desperately needed on my Nintendo Switch. Now that I've experienced every bit of it, I don't regret my first reaction. Better yet, it even exceeded my expectations. Velocity 2X is, simply put, one of the finest titles I played so far this year.
Velocity 2X puts you in control of lieutenant Kai Tana. She is the pilot of the Quarp Jet, a spacecraft that makes for a mighty weapon in combat. Due to a matter of circumstances, Kai finds herself in a galaxy ruled with an iron fist. The sinister alien race, known as the Vokh, need to be halted and this is where our heroine comes into the picture. Guided by a mysterious ally, she progresses through multiple levels to set things right and find a way home. The story isn't the main reason why you would play Velocity 2X, but it provides sound context to what you experience.
The gameplay drives the experience, though. In the majority of the levels, you control Kai’s ship, blasting your way in shoot-'em-up fashion. It’s not quite a run-and-gun journey as puzzles and obstacles crop up often. The constant shift between mechanics, whether its flinging bombs or warping deftly around the screen, is incredibly well put together, and I always felt fully in control of the ship. The levels constantly build on the abilities you get, making that next run all the more satisfying. Constant surprises and twists appear organically, making for a pleasing time.
In between the flying sections, Kai has to get out of the ship and attack Vokh hideouts on foot. This is where Velocity 2X goes from shoot-'em-up to a gameplay design variety hour. These side-scrolling sections showcase Kai's own power, which is impressive in its own right. The teleporting from the ship is present here, as is combat and dashing. The moment I jumped over an obstacle, instantly teleported down and broke the glass beneath with a gun I knew I was in very capable hands. Velocity 2X forces you to use the things you learned, and make use of the best tactics at hand. There isn't a moment that feels anywhere close to dull.
The key to why Velocity 2X works so well is the build up. During your first playthrough of the individual levels, you may run into certain roadblocks. Velocity 2X is finely tuned to the abilities you have unlocked at that point, so you have to work within those restrictions as well. The earliest stages are somewhat forgiving, but as you move on, the window to make mistakes becomes increasingly smaller. Reflexes and memory are tested to a high degree, something that might not suit every player. The best thing is returning to stages at the end of the journey, and seeing how your play style has changed. I found myself in the flow, and the levels almost turn into rhythm games where every button click matters. In that time, I became addicted to nailing down runs with absolute precision. It is a thing of beauty when it all comes together.
On top all of this, the presentation is brilliant. The stark uses of colors in Velocity 2X make for one sharp-looking video game. There is a real sense of layered work with obstacles, moving objects, and backgrounds moving independently. In addition, the individual frames during the side-scrolling sections are of the cleanest I've seen in a game. It compliments the gameplay in such a grand manner that it almost hurts. The soundtrack is also grand. Pumping tracks pepper the action scenes, and mellow tunes underly conversations betweens characters. It all fits under a singular umbrella.
Velocity 2X is a game I've played for the first time in 2018, and I'm sort of ashamed. This is one of the finest action games I've played in a while, and every individual piece about it works. Now to be totally clear, I do think it requires a certain mindset to love this game. The one that wants to keep pushing onwards and improving at every step. There are moments that can frustrate you if you are careless, but Velocity 2X also rewards the players who stick around. After hours upon hours just toying around with levels, I felt like an absolute boss nailing down every obstacle to a tee. Even now, I find myself experimenting and having a fantastic time doing so.