Set in a distant future, Rex Rocket tells its own version of the classic Man vs Machines conflict. Captain Rexford (or Rexanna) and the crew aboard the S.S. Montana prepares for another routine mission for the Council of Science. This mission involves the delicate matter of transplanting bio-engineered Terra-Oozlings onto an uninhabited planet on the other side of the galaxy. Unfortunately for our crew, during their cryo-sleep, the shit hits the fan as a bevvy of dangerous specimens escape causing the ship’s A.I. to go haywire. It’s up to the player to rescue the crew and get the ship under control.
Rex Rocket is an 8bit Metroidvania 2D inspired retro game where players go through the game’s ship which features 100 hand-crafted levels. Players can run, gun, jump and wall jump throughout the levels. As players progress through the game, they will be rewarded with new weapons. You’ll sometimes also ride a nice little mech which allows you to plow through waves of enemies with it’s multi-direction guns à la Spread gun from Contra.
To entice players to enjoy the game’s Metroidvania aspect to the fullest, there are chips, records and upgrades hidden throughout the ship which players are encouraged to search every nook and cranny in order to find the various collectibles and Health and Ammo upgrade. The game also features a Mega Man like feature where you earn new weapons from bosses. Once you’ve equipped the newly acquired weapon, press Y to use it until it’s empty. That way you can mix and match regular blast with new weapons. Speaking of which, they offer a decent variety of enemies and bosses. Players will face threats of the slime persuasion and robots gone haywire; most of which require to shoot until they exploded. On the other hand, bosses will provide an additional layer of challenge. Bosses will have their own skillset and abilities which players need to quickly adapt to and memorize. And considering your health bar is basically 1/4 of the boss’, you need to be quick on your toes.
Metroidvania also means backtracking as you’ll sometime have to retrace your steps to uncover new areas and thankfully, there’s a few nifty Hyper Tubes spread across the ship in order to ease backtracking to a previously visited area in order to progress or grab missed collectibles or upgrades.
And also following with the bosses’ tricky patterns, the game is in no way easy. You have to prepare yourself to die often; whether it be at the hands of slimey enemies, rough bosses and various traps found in most areas of the game. Spikes, moving pillars, lasers, slime pools; there’s a handful of ways to die. Thankfully, checkpoints are common so this ensuree you won’t lose too much time retracing your steps to the fatal area. While they tried to make the areas different from another, some of them will give you a feeling of déjà vu where you might be questioning yourself as if you already went through; but seeing as areas aren’t that huge, it’s not much of a waste of time going back through familiar sections. Some areas, you’ll come across a little buddy that will provide additional firepower for a limited time. Quite helpful as usually falls on areas with a higher number of enemies.
Rex Rocket’s presentation is an homage to games from the NES era. The game’s 8bit visuals are both colorful and cute. Even dying is enjoyable to watch; whether you get squished, melted, explode, they managed to add a comedic flair to poor Rex’s various ways to die. The soundtrack is another nod to classic gaming full of 8-bit goodness perfect to match the game’s sheer, and progressive, brutality. It’s also available for your listening, or re-listening pleasure on bandcamp.
Is Rex Rocket worth it? Definitely. But it all depends on your tolerance for repetition considering that you’ll die…a lot. The game has a reasonable difficulty curve as it was gets harder near the end (Super Meat Boy level of frustration), there are some trickier sections that will require players use all their tools at their disposals while bouncing from wall to wall. Fan of Celeste and Super Meat Boy will rejoice with this different take on what I call the kamikaze genre, but at least the game provides a sense of reward when clearing a difficult boss or section.
- Challenging bosses
- Addictive soundtrack
- Solid gameplay
- Final level is brutal
- Some frustrating sequences