In a very far future, depts have now become the dominant species on the planet, outnumbering humans (known as Minos). At the top of the order is the Sumeragi Institute of Human Evolution which hunts down humans, Minos, to extinction in order to usher in a new age of humanity. Thankfully, a single, mysterious, young man, named Copen, stands in the Sumeragi’s planned genocide; this warrior is known as the Luminous Avenger iX.
The best way to describe Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX is basically an interesting Mega Man X clone: similar futuristic setting, MMX inspired level design. It also follows the MM template to a tee: select a level, fight the boss and obtain a new weapon. And this is where the similarities end. If you’re expecting a smooth ride like a MM game, then buckle up for deception.
At first, you have your basic firearm which can shoot in front of you taking out enemies, sadly, you can’t shoot in multi direction. You’ll need to jump/hover to take out flying enemies. And while the character is much taller than Capcom’s Blue bomber, you can’t duck so taking out enemies that roam around under your attacks will prove frustrating as you’ll need to use your special attack to take them out. Considering the amount of buttons on a current-gen controller, the devs have dedicated the special attack to the RB button; which can feel a bit counter-intuitive.
You start with a default special attack, which can prove devastating and quite handy while going through levels. After you defeat a boss, you earn a new special attack that you can switch via the RT or LT button. This special attack also has a meter that refills quickly, so you don’t have to worry about running out.
While typical generic enemies can be taken out by simply shooting at them with your default weapon, sub-bosses and end level bosses are a whole other level of complicated. While the first boss of the intro level feels right, the game knocks your ass down to reality faster than you can say Gunvolt. Reaching the 2nd boss, you throw everything you have at it to realize that you’re barely making a dent in its health bar might leave you puzzled. You figure that you don’t have the proper weapon to fight it, right? Wrong. That because the game doesn’t take time to explain to you the inner mechanics of combat as the most efficient way to do damage is to dash into a vulnerable enemy so every bullet from your default weapons hones directly on the boss to do damage. A short tutorial, instead of a useless auto-presentation, could’ve been highly beneficial.
If you’re in trouble, you can also call upon a friend to unleash a devastating attack that will wipe out surrounding enemies and make a decent amount of damage to boss; it can save your ass if you’re about to die. Additionally, after dying a few times (most likely at an annoying boss), you’ll be resuscitated by your companion who will now give you a hand in combat. The game rewards players who continue combos with points with more money drop and experience.
There’s also an interesting level up system. As you go through enemies, you level up which increases your health. It’s a fun little mechanic which I feel is better than having to scavenge every corner of a level to find health increase. Killed enemies also drop coins which can, in turn, be used to purchase upgrades; unfortunately, the lack of clear explanation of what the skills can actually do to help can lead to buying a useless skill and thus screwing your progress and wasting precious money.
My main problem with this game is the lack of tutorial. While the MM like concept is simple on paper, it took way too long than I wanted to to “get” the combat where certain enemies and mostly bosses require you to dash into them in order to deal more damage and finally have a sense of progress. Reaching the first boss of the intro level, you feel like everything is fine, but once you reach another end level boss and you throw everything at it but the kitchen sink and you barely made a dent in its health, it’s infuriating and can be a bit discouraging because you don’t actually what you’re doing against bosses as typical attacks barely do any damage.
The game has a beautiful, color 16-bit look to it; nicely pixelated giving up a full-on Japan anime feel to it. The story is develop across anime-like characters interacting on screen in between missions. The soundtrack is a decent 16-bit score; while interesting, it’s quite forgettable.
As a huge Mega Man fan and considering the similarities (I actually devoured the previous Gunvolt game on Switch early last year), I tried very hard to enjoy Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX. The presentation and the feel of it felt like I was playing an homage to the original Mega Man X game, however the lack of tutorial and absurd combat drags it down. It’s really fun until you reach a boss; trying to randomly manage your sub-weapons while bosses do exaggerated damage is annoying. If you have the patience to figuring out an overly complicated combat system, there’s a chance you’ll enjoy; otherwise you might want to check out Metaloid Origin instead.
- Interesting Mega Man alternative
- Fun futuristic level design
- Lack of tutorial
- Frustrating boss battles