ARC Squadron: Redux, is a fun, fast-paced aerial combat title, set in outer space. A humble spaceship janitor (yes!), you’re given the unenviable task of being the last line of defence against swarms of bad guys that are attacking your spaceship.
Things get off to a pretty quick start. Descending the spaceship hangar elevator, you hear a voice boom over the intercom. He informs you that you’re their last hope for survival and must defeat the enemies. Everyone else has abandoned ship.
Up, up and away!
A quick training mission, guided by a female mission coordinator, gives you the necessary skills to step up to the plate.
The controls were what made me love this game from the start. Instead of multiple buttons, directional pads and joysticks, they’ve gone for a simple ‘one thumb’ system. By moving your finger around on the screen you control the moving spacecraft. When your aimer crosses over an enemy your secondary weapons will fire automatically. To fire your primary weapon, a homing missile, just tap the enemy you want to annihilate.
Some aerobatic stunts can also be performed such as a barrel roll to avoid an oncoming enemy missile.
The Universe just goes on and on and on
For a free game, the level design was expertly done. The positioning of floating debris, asteroids, planets and obstacles keeps you on edge. The numerous enemies (over seven or eight at a time) fill the center of the screen which keeps your secondary weapon firing,
virtually non-stop. At critical points of a mission you’re treated to some fantastic animation as asteroids collide, enemies explode or bosses appear over the horizon. Each level feels big and never ending.
Despite the fact that you’re kept on a narrow track and are constantly moving forward, the fast-paced action, brilliant design and tough challenges make it feel like an open-world game.
It’s the small things in life
Tiny additions and attention to detail really make this game special. The female mission coordinator will often nag you if you’re doing poorly or stress the importance of the mission. This adds a sense of urgency to each mission.
Also, between each level, there are a couple of mini-games called ‘wormholes’. These act as portals between levels and as a chance to rack up extra in-game credits. A long, twisting spiral to the next dimension, wormholes are packed with enemies to destroy and prize boxes to collect.
Even in outer space, they accept Visa
The game quickly introduces you to its monetization strategy; the usual combination of a game currency with in-app purchases.
You can use game currency, which is in generous supply for the first dozen missions, to upgrade your spacecraft, upgrade weapons or to personalise your ship.
Eventually, a point is reached where the player must repeatedly play missions to acquire enough currency to keep their spacecraft up to scratch. Thankfully, the mission scoring system also encourages you to go back and re-do missions to achieve a better score; so it doesn’t feel like slave labour.
Less patient gamers can opt for an in-app purchase.
Overall, I thought ACR Squadron: Redux was a really enjoyable game with at least a few days’ worth of intensive gaming action. The controls are intuitive, the graphics are great and the levels always offer new challenges.
Freemium doesn’t get much better than this.