Backlog Review: Curved Space (Switch)

A fun twin-stick shooter with some notable flaws.

By Nick Dollar. Posted 10/11/2021 21:19 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Fast and fun twin stick shooter; great soundtrack
Poison Mushroom for...
Can’t save mid-run, you have to finish or start over; nothing carries over from run to run

Welcome to our latest Backlog Review, where we look at game releases that might have slipped through the cracks and determine whether or not they’re worthy of a playthrough.

Curved Space is a third-person twin-stick shooter with a bit of a twist. Each level in Curved Space is a 3D object that your ship can navigate across almost all of the surfaces of, much like how Mario Galaxy allowed Mario to traverse wholly around the surface of its various planetoids. The difference here is that you can’t jump from one planetoid to another—instead, you are stuck to a single location to. This makes exploration of Curved Space’s various environments enjoyable.

The campaign in Curved Space is an interesting story about how the enemies (spiders) serve as an energy source for the society in this universe. Unfortunately, although the narrative has potential, it doesn’t seem to go beyond setting the stage for the arcade style gameplay. Curved Space also features a survival mode, endless mode, an arena mode to complete various challenges under certain conditions, and a daily run mode that provides randomized challenges each day with a leaderboard to compete with other players. The difference between survival and endless is lost on me, as they both seem to be modes where you fight waves until you die. There must be some distinction that I haven’t been able to discern it.

The campaign of Curved Space is where you’ll likely be spending a good chunk of your time when first playing and learning the mechanics of the game. You can collect multiple weapons and swap between them, and a good majority of the weapons are pretty much what you’d expect from a twin stick shooter: rapid fire, shotgun, lasers, snipers, etc., etc. Something unique to this game, however, is that the bullets curve with the rounded surface of the level. Some shots can even bounce and ricochet off of walls, which can be a fun interaction when fighting some of the tougher enemies.

There is an overdrive mode you can activate after collecting energy which boosts the attack speed or damage output of whatever weapon you are using. You can even lash the enemies to yourself or each other. Each time you complete a level, several upgrades pour out, of which  you get a choice of one. These can be upgrades to your dash or specific weapon types. The upgrades seem to be randomized each time you play, which lends to a more rogue like gameplay style. Sadly, there isn’t too much innovative gameplay to be found here, with only one or two unique features beyond this to speak of. Also, having the geometry of each level interact with your shots, while interesting at first, can become problematic during fast paced combat and maneuvering near sharper edges in the playing field.

The graphics are well done with a bright neon aesthetic that fits the synth wave soundtrack. Each of the enemies are geometric spiders and there are many variations with a distinct look to them so you won’t be taken by surprise by their attacks. Curved Space isn’t without its faults, however. The game seems to be built much like a roguelike with branching paths in the campaign and randomized upgrades, but each time you begin the campaign you slog through the tutorial and not all the abilities are unlocked from the start, despite having gone through the campaign already. It was a turn off for me having to go through the basics again each time I played.

Another drawback is that each run through the campaign is lengthy but there is no way to save and quit during the run—you are going to have to see it through to the end or lose all of your progress. That seems like a huge oversight for a game like this and especially considering it is on a mobile platform like Switch. On top of all of this, having a great run and defeating the final boss doesn’t seem to do much for you aside from having a better score at the end of the day. You might unlock a few new things for the other modes, but each of your runs through the campaign is going to most likely be the same every time. Curved Space is a fun modern take on the twin stick shooter genre but doesn’t offer many new advances that players might expect in this day and age of video games.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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