Laserpitium – PS5 Review 1

Laserpitium is a 2D horizontally-scrolling shoot ’em that comes to us from one of the more prolific publishers in the genre, eastasiasoft, and was created by French studio, The ReeTeam.  They have a long record of making low budget indie shooters that mostly ended up on Steam but this appears to be their first foray into console gaming.  We recently reviewed another game of this type, Herodes, and it’s interesting to see two similar, budget shoot ’em ups doing very similar things, albeit with different levels of success.

This game sees you playing as a space pilot who has to save the galaxy from the AI that controls all of the united military power and has just gone a bit Skynet about it.  Once you get past this little bit of plot though, the game the forgoes any of that nonsense and just concentrates on the action.  When starting up the game you get two options for playing the game.

You can either play through a campaign where there is a branching choice of levels or you can play the ‘full’ campaign which gives you all the levels in a more traditional structure (you can reorder the first five levels but you’ll still have to play them all).  You then pick a ship from a choice of three and then you’re thrusted in to the action.

This is a pretty standard sort of shoot ’em up.  The usual structure of you flying through waves of enemies and taking on various bosses is exactly what you’d expect from the genre and that’s what you get.  From waves of popcorn enemies, to fixed gun emplacements, environmental hazards, missiles and bosses, there’s no surprises but also nothing missing.

You move your ship with the d-pad or left stick.  The movement feels reasonably accurate but it’s not super crisp.  The fact that your ship is hand-drawn, a little large and the whole thing appears to be a big hitbox means that precision isn’t this game’s strength.  You’re armed with a primary and a secondary weapon and you have a selection of lives (the number being linked to the difficulty level that you pick but being anywhere from a ridiculously paltry one all the way up to twenty).

The three playable ships all have different weapons set-ups.  The first ship has a standard machine gun type weapon.  Pressing your secondary fire button just makes it fire backwards.  The second ship has a direct forward firing laser but the secondary weapon splits that so that you fire diagonally up/forwards and down/forwards.  You’ve not got any cover for the back with this option but it is handy during boss battles where you’ll need to find gaps in the enemy’s firepower but will still be looking to deliver damage.

The third ship has an electric beam that locks on to the nearest enemy.  This is, by some margin, the best weapon in the game.  It covers you from all angles and it does direct, uninterrupted damage to anyone stupid enough to get close.  Disappointly though, this ship’s secondary weapon is the exact same one.  That feels a little lazy.

But, generally speaking, everything plays quite well here.  Enemies can be a little stronger than you’d like which means they absorb a few too many bullets and bosses can have some erratic firing patterns that seem almost impossible to avoid at times but the big stock of lives available to you does mitigate that somewhat.  You’re looking at around forty minutes for a full playthrough which is okay.  Any longer than that and things might have gotten tedious.

Compared to the aforementioned Herodes, this game does stand out.  The playability is better, the action more dynamic, the level design more interesting, the enemy attack patterns more varied and the presentation is vastly better.  Both games sport a hand-drawn look and this does it in a nicer way with more detailed sprites and much more attractive backdrops.  It’s very indie and low budget but the clean and colourful looks are pretty charming.

So yeah, this is alright.  If it was priced higher we’d want a bit more precision from it and more balance between the various playable ships but at this price the game’s absolutely fine so if you’re a fan of the genre and you’ve got some pocket change spare, Laserpitium is well worth a look.

7 Overall
+ nice, colourful visuals
+ decent variation between playable ships
+ good range of difficulty settings
- lacks a bit of precision
- some boss attacks are very hard to avoid
- uneven balance between the available weapons
As a cheap and cheerful shoot 'em up, Laserpitium is perfectly serviceable and offers some fun thrills for fans of the genre. It's far from perfect but, at this price point, it feels like a bargain.

About Richie

Rich is the editor of PlayStation Country. He likes his games lemony and low-budget with a lot of charm. This isn't his photo. That'll be Rik Mayall.

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