Format reviewed: Steam
Other formats available: PS Store
Developer: R C Knight
Publisher: Charlie's Games
Website: Official Website
"In Son of Scoregasm, you only have one simple but dastardly objective ... Destroy all of the evil space baddies and rescue the King of the Earth's beloved biscuit tin! Blast and manoeuvre your way through 28 varied levels full of evasive enemies, traps, red hot lasers and atmospheric explosions! Are you in for a dunking or can you save the galaxy, defeat the boss contraptions and rescue the biscuits! With online leaderboards showing the world who's no.1! It may look simple but wait until you take control.. it ain't so easy now... is it?"
Son of Scoregasm is a twin-stick shooter as you imagine them. Simple geometric-style graphics with added polish, vast enemy count, particle effects galore, leaderboards, synth-led music, and an effective score multiplier to keep you busy this coming month.
The Main Menu interface has you flying through the geometric Universe across; difficulty levels, of which there are two; credits; tutorial; options, allowing you to choose effects, etc.; and the levels themselves. The levels are spread out in an escalating triangle, starting with a nice easy welcoming stage that branches into two at a successful run. At a level's conclusion it's possible to select the green path, easier, or the orange path, more difficult. These branching paths accommodate a total of 28 levels with 7 different endings at the end of each path. Finish such a path and a culinary biscuity delight will be retrieved for the King to lord over. Every one of the 28 levels throws a new idea at you, to puzzle out, to find a safe spot, and to figure out new enemy types and their attack patterns. The level design varies from circular safe areas, to borders that result in instant death upon the touch, to blasting enemies emerging from a rotating green radar field. The variety is a sheer joy to behold and destroy, each level being small enough to fit on the entire screen at one time.
Playing with a controller feels natural and is fully mapped, including rumble. The left analogue stick moves your ship around the stage, albeit at first your ship appears to move a little too slowly. However, with prolonged playing time it's easy to see that this speed has been finely tuned to balance the enemies placement and relentless attack patterns, and leads to a satisfyingly frenetic ride through each arena. The right analogue stick shoots in the relevant direction pressed with a slight caveat, this is not a full analogue rotation of your guns, but progresses at about 15 degrees of rotation at a time. This leads to some fiddly fine tuning of shots at particularly hectic times, but is most noticeable when it's quiet and shooting at a single enemy. The shooting, however, seems a pitiful burst of elongated triangular projectiles firing in a straight line at first use. That quickly ceases to be the requisite default as shooting enemies increases the spread of your shots. This makes range and aiming easier, more effective, and deadlier. The L and R shoulder buttons are used to trigger a pulse attack, which acts as a close range enemy destroyer. A pink ring that surrounds your ship signifies the amount of power left and will slowly recharge over time. You can speed up this pulse attack recharge ability though, by simply shooting more enemies. If you get the balance right between shooting and pulsing, you can theoretically use the pulse attack constantly. Which is how the big boys play because the pulse attack is also inextricably linked to your score multiplier. Kill an enemy with the pulse attack, collect the little green orb that has been dropped and your score multiplier goes up by 1. By shooting enemies, you can score points. So you have to find the perfect balance between multiplier (pulsing) and points (shooting) to get into the high score legend's lists, found in the leaderboards.
Each level has its own leaderboard linked to your account, which is set-up at the start of the game. The leaderboards simply show the top players in the world, all the way down to my pitiful efforts, which can be seen easily in the My Score board. You're given a single life on each level. Die, and the death screen appears along with scores and leaderboards for that particular level. Fortunately, it is so streamlined to get back to that level for another retry, by simply pressing a single button and waiting a mere second, and you're good to go again. The game, as twin-stick shooters should, throws a lot of enemies at you all the time. Particle effects during enemy death throws are kept to minimum orange shower, followed by huge explosions of bosses, and your own ship. With all that occurs on screen, enemies, particles, bullets, there was never any amount of slowdown or dropped frames evident. All ran extremely smoothly on my old PC, even when environmental structures are the like are used to push rollers against hordes of enemies while they push them back at you from 2 sides. No slowdown, and fast flowing graphics, impressive.
Son of Scoregasm features 18 achievement trophies to collect by doing activities such as defeating Expert Mode, finding the King's chocolate chip, or by completing levels without firing a single shot. Each level will also give you a Medal for achieving difficult, but reachable, scores. Always pushing you toward the leaderboards for that one last try.
Music is synth-led space shooter fare, that in no way becomes too repetitive, but is simply a little too generic for the game. All complements go to it not being too loud or trashy, and the effects are spot on with ample explosions and shooty noises.
Such a game, with its 28 levels, all short enough to not outstay their welcome, will be questioned for the overall longevity of the package. And, if you like chasing down the high score leaderboard big wig, then you'll get a hell of a lot of this. However, just a single playthrough of each of the levels on offer warrants not quite enough for the price of purchase, but presents you with one hell of a challenge. Done all that, then try for all the achievements, and finally how does the Expert Mode grab you. Certainly more than enough to be getting on with, but not ground breaking.
A great introduction for beginners of twin-stick shooters, and veterans alike. Son of Scoregasm's great multiplier mechanic makes this a game that is hard to put down, yet is also wonderful for short bursts of 20 minutes or so. If this game ever makes it to the Switch it'll be a perfect fit for the style of pick and play this offers. Great fun, only let down by the lack of full analogue rotation of the right stick shooting, and extreme difficulty on the harder levels. Oh, did I mention biscuits!
Review by Lee Davis for Nintendo: Review