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Swordship - Xbox - Review

Swordship, from developer Digital Kingdom and publisher Thunderful Publishing is a breath of fresh air for me in a world of slow, plodding, dark, side scrolling roguelike games that have become the in thing nowdays. Swordship is described as an action-roguelike game but it honestly feels more like a classic, hardcore arcade experience. The game takes place in the future after the devastation of global warming has hit. People have now resorted to living in three huge underwater cities located at the bottom of the oceans. People are expelled from the cities and banished due to lack of space and they have to survive on the burned lands. Some residents of the cities decide to steal goods containers and deliver them to banished survivors and to do this they use some ultra-fast boats. It's not the most in depth story but it's all that is needed to set up the in game action.

Gameplay wise you captain a ship that has no weapons. Your big advantage is that you are light and maneuverable so you need to use your reactions to avoid enemies and obstacles with split second reflexes. The game feels like a shoot-em up without the ability to shoot and will see you weaving around the screen dodging attacks to survive whilst trying to trick your enemies into killing each other by tactically positioning your ship and dodging their fire.

Throughout the levels you will need to grab containers and deliver them to improve your score and upgrade your ship. The roguelike effect comes into play here as when you die your score reflects on an XP bar. If you don't fill the bar in a run you lose the progress completely. It ends ups being a risk/reward scenario with upgrading. Do you play it safe and grab passive upgrades and extra ships that more fit your play style OR do you risk it all to bank the stolen containers for huge score boosts to smash that XP bar? That's the big decision you will have to make. Once you are a few runs in, going for the higher score to boost the XP bar to unlock permanent unlocks is definitely recommended.

The levels themselves are randomly generated but if you die you need to restart from the beginning. You can gain extra lives during your runs, but these only prevent the run from ending and you still start whatever level you are on from the beginning. It does get frustrating and the lives should work more like shields or have you just respawn exactly where you were when you died. It would just make the game that little bit less punishing especially when you can sometimes die unfairly.

The game itself has a great aesthetic with it looking and sounding fantastic. The art style is great and there is a variety in the enemy designs however the levels themselves do look a little repetitive and samey the more you play.

Overall Swordship is a fun, but ultimately difficult arcade experience. It's the type of game you will find yourself going back to now and again for short bursts of action (Just one more run!) instead of long sessions. It's not the most deep of videogames but if you see this as a modern style arcade experience then you will understand the type of game it truly is. The game looks great and the dodge em up style gameplay is a unique take on the roguelite genre instead of the usual side scrolling dungeon adventures that seem to be all the rage at the moment. TOTAL SCORE: 6.5/10

Swordship was released onto the Xbox store on the 6th December 2022. Priced at £16.99 it is playable on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S consoles. The game can be purchased HERE.

A copy of the game was provided for this review. A huge thanks for that.

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