There is something about a well executed 2D run and gun adventure platform game that never fails to draw me in to playing them relentlessly, daring me to put the joystick down and walk away. Turrican was a shining example of how good a platform shooter could get when all the elements come together to produce engrossing game play on an old 8-bit machine.
Psytronik Software and developer Lasse Oorni look to re-create this experience with the release of the action-packed Steel Ranger. The game starts off with a semi-interactive section that sets the scene for the game and is well executed. The quality introduction of the game provides the first indication of the high production values on offer here and sets the tone for the task ahead.
Steel Ranger is set in the year 2218 and humanity is forced to travel through out space in order to sustain our own civilization. But during their exploration they get caught up in a war against a machine intelligence. thinking that it is the key to turning the tide against the machine intelligence, the humans look to send a patrol ship to land on a barren planet that is emitting a mysterious Omega symbol from its surface.
You play the role of one of the crew members who have crash landed on the planet and has gone out to find the source of the Omega symbol, equipped with the Ranger self-charging armour suits to aid him in his quest.
Steel Ranger is a massive game to explore. In my time playing the game, I would have come across 15 or 16 different distinct locations with most of them consisting of 10 or more screens. Thanks to its high quality scrolling, the game moves smoothly at a face pace. The main character is customisable and very well animated. The backdrops don’t let us down either, with plenty of variation to add to the sense that we are exploring a large world.
As the Ranger moves through the world, he will come across flying creatures, machine soldiers, crawling robots, gun cannons and big boss battles to impede his effort to uncover the source of the mysterious signal. Shooting enemies may result in currency (called Parts) or temporary weapon upgrades being dropped for the Ranger to collect. As he explores deeper into the world, the Ranger will come across opportunities to upgrade his armour suit and weapons.
The puzzle element of the game comes in the form of trying to obtain passes and switching off computer systems in order to by-pass the systems of each of the broader security zones within the world. Figuring out where to go and how to access a blocked area or switch off an unreachable computer proved to quite enjoyable. The game utilises a save/checkpoint system that is as generous as those found on current gen titles, providing further motivation to persist through the game.
To round things off completely, the game’s soundtrack is nothing short of great and pushes out pumping tunes that further enhances the experience of playing Steel Ranger. The music changes from one location to another and it does a great job of giving an epic vibe and further immerses you within the game.
Psytronik kick off the 2018 gaming scene with an impressive release. Steel Ranger is a highly enjoyable experience that shows us how good 2D shooter platformer can be. The game’s high production values, large game world, absorbing game play, and steady pacing make Steel Ranger a must play game for all fans of the ‘Run & Gun’ genre. We would have no reservations in recommending Steel Ranger.
Checkout the link below for a video review of Steel Ranger, including a look at the boxed set.