-The- Puzzling Shooter
Download Size: 55 MB
Time Played: 3 hrs.
Game Overs: 1
Manual Dexterity Required: High
What I'd Pay: $12
Steam Price (2/5/12): $10
This is the type of game that makes me wonder if I missed out by not playing its predecessor. What started as a fun shooter turned into a frantic battle for survival as I pulled out every trick in the book to keep the Chain of Doom from reaching my pyramid.
Luxor Evolved plays like the mutant child of Bust-a-Move and Centipede. Scarabs constantly push chains of balls down a fixed track towards your pyramid; if a ball enters the pyramid, you lose a life. Meanwhile, your ship zips back and forth across the bottom of the screen, shooting colored balls into the chain. Match up 3 or more and they disappear, causing the balls on either side to collapse the gap and smash into each other. If they form another chain of 3+, they disappear too, continuing the cycle. If the combo's large enough, the impact can actually shove the scarab back, buying you precious seconds.
Meanwhile, the combos are dropping powerups you can grab to destroy more balls. There's also mega-powerups: when you combine enough parts, your ship turns into a juggernaut for a few moments that lets you clear the entire field. By the endgame, it all combines into a hectic mess of chains, shots, and lightning bolts. Identifying large chains, clearing a hole to reach them, and precise shooting are all vital for survival. It requires just enough thinking to elevate it from pure twitch shooting to solving a puzzle in hypertime.
The remade graphics fit the gameplay, following Geometry Wars' format of using glowing colored vectors on a black background to help you identify things at a glance. The future vector look is accompanied by a techno soundtrack that doesn't overwhelm the action, but keeps you pumped up the entire time. The controls were smooth as silk, with the ship always following the cursor and letting me snap split-second shots with ease.
It also breaks up the standard gameplay with various secret levels for gathering enough treasure and boss fights at the end of each stage. The boss fights really fit the gameplay: you have to destroy the entire chain circling the boss, while shield chains and attack chains distract you. It naturally builds on all the skills you've honed during the actual game, instead of feeling out-of-place. The secret levels are amusing throwbacks to the arcade games of old, but other than the nifty backgrounds there's nothing really special about them compared to the regular levels.
When I finished this game, I was hungry for more. I was tempted to restart, this time on Hard. At first, I thought the levels were completely remade; if they were, this game would've gotten 5 stars easily. As is, it's a great way to pass a few hours for anyone that wants a little more puzzle in their shooters.