Review: Velocity 2X (Switch)

Gotta go hyper-fast!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 12/07/2018 11:30 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Tight, fat-free gameplay; focus is strong here with zero filler; great visuals and soundtrack; fun, albeit simple, storyline; tons of replayability; all DLC
Poison Mushroom for...
Controls aren't immediately intuitive

Velocity 2X is the perfect example of how to make a game with zero filler. There are few titles that engender the same sense of speed and power that Velocity 2X does. Developed by FuturLab, this is a game that demands precision from its players as they careen from one stage to the next at a breakneck pace. Mixing platforming and space shooter action, Velocity 2X is one of the most impressive titles to hit the eShop this year and is a can’t miss experience.

The game revolves around a pilot named Lt. Kai Tana. Kai mans the Quarp Jet, an experimental craft that, when last both were seen in the original Velocity on PlayStation Vita, had gone hurtling into a black hole. Kai and her ship have both been acquired by a vicious race of aliens called the Vokh. While in their possession, Kai was experimented on and augmented with a number of cybernetic enhancements. Where the first Velocity focused on the Quarp Jet, Velocity 2X also incorporates Kai directly into the gameplay, resulting in more diverse mechanics to toy around with.

When I say there’s no filler in Velocity 2X, I mean it. The game is a master class in design. There’s no fluff to be found and no extraneous content that doesn’t serve a purpose. There are two modes of play to engage in, although there are similarities between both. When flying, the action scrolls vertically, with the main heroine hurtling through space, teleporting, and firing off shots in rapid volleys. When running on foot, the perspective shifts horizontal, but the heroine continues to move at high speeds, teleport, and shoot. Both styles are kinetic, mesmerizing, and fun, and help keep any stagnation from setting in while playing.

Velocity 2X wouldn’t feel out of place in an arcade. The emphasis of every stage is speed. It’s possible to move at a sedate pace in Velocity 2X, but that would be to miss the point. FuturLab is testing players to see how fast they can be. Velocity 2X is about speed of movement, of decision-making, of comprehension. Every element within the game world is deliberately placed. Whether it’s a pod person waiting to be rescued or a pillar resting in Kai’s way, everything is placed to both challenge the player and, ultimately, minimize the amount of time it takes to reach the end of a stage.

All of the movements that Kai and the Quarp Jet are capable of are intended to be chained into each other. Teleportation, for instance, is initiated by positioning a reticule at a point somewhere beyond the ship or Kai. Once set, the player instantaneously materializes at that spot. It’s a very handy move, but linking it with a slide, for instance, makes it even more versatile. As the player continues to experiment with how to link these maneuvers together, new strategies for shaving seconds off the clock quickly reveal themselves.

There’s a healthy amount of combat thrown into the mix here, but Velocity 2X is really more about creating a maximum economy of movement over blowing stuff up. Kai and the Quarp are both more than capable of offense, but the moments of shooting are always perfectly meshed into and part of the movement loop that players are expected to uncover within each stage. The fluidity of motion in Velocity 2X is truly transfixing. It’s hard not to want to keep playing when the action is as addicting as it is here.

Velocity 2X does many things well, but it would be disingenuous to claim it’s perfect. The main source of frustration I had with the game, brief though it was, came from learning the controls. Teleporting, as I mentioned, is accomplished by moving a cursor around on-screen. That sounds easy enough, but in practice it was initially confusing to try and manipulate the reticule while also moving the ship around. What’s more, the player is encouraged to boost constantly, meaning they have to be able to position the reticule for teleportation almost instantaneously in some cases.

It’s an irritation that diminishes after only a brief amount of practice, but there’s no getting around the fact that in some ways the controls are arguably not as intuitive as they could be. Which isn’t the end of the world; after all, even if a game’s controls aren’t intuitive that doesn’t mean they can’t be learned. Velocity 2X has a learning curve, but it’s not an insurmountable one. Mastery requires only that the player practices. With gameplay this fun, it’s not a problem to ask players to stick with it.

Rounding things out is a beautiful visual style that’s equal parts pulsating neons and gorgeous still images. Whether running around as Kai or piloting the Quarp, Velocity 2X looks great and runs spectacularly. At a glance, Kai is a ringer for Samus in her Zero Suit, but it would be unfair to peg her as a clone of Nintendo’s famous bounty hunter. In reality, Kai has a much different personality, as she’s far less cold and calculating than Samus. Kai’s abilities also stem from implants in her body as opposed to a suit of armor. Samus might have helped inspire Kai, but she is very much her own character.

In terms of story, Velocity 2X uses a series of static drawings between stages to communicate its narrative. These images are beautifully rendered and really create a sense of place. The stages themselves tend to be nothing more than sectors of space and corridors, so the cut scenes help to more firmly establish where Kai is and what’s going on. The soundtrack is a nice blend of electronic beats that oscillate between energetic and bouncy during stages and more subdued fair while the cinematics are occurring.

Velocity 2X has online leaderboards to keep players coming back for more, and with the inclusion of all previously released DLC as part of this Switch iteration of the game, this represents the most complete version of the title to date. It’s not an especially long experience, but length isn’t always the objective of a given game, nor is it always an indicator of quality. Velocity 2X is a delightful addition to the eShop exactly as is. FuturLab says that how well Velocity 2X sells on Switch will play a huge role in determining if another sequel is made, so we implore you to go out and give it a download!

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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