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Velocity 2X Switch Review – Holy Shmup, dude.

Futurlab's stunning shmup/platformer lands on Switch. The FNGR GNS Review;

Way back in August 2014(!), Futurlab took a risky move and launched their highly anticipated sequel Velocity 2X on PS4, completely free to PS Plus subscribers. This decision was odd, considering there was a dedicated audience from Velocity Ultra ready and willing to give Futurlab all of their money for the sequel. Regardless, the game was released at no cost and PS Plus subscribers had a genuinely brilliant game for nothing.

Still, the issue was that away from PS Plus, the game couldn’t find a core audience. It hit PSN after its run on PS Plus and remained stagnant, unable to convince people to part with their money for this game that was recently free to all. But why? If you followed us back in the PSGamer days (RIP), you’ll know the love we had for Velocity 2X. Myself and Sean proclaimed it to be our favourite game of 2014 (as did many other outlets), with its highly addictive gameplay and wonderful visuals, cracking characters and so much more. It felt genuinely original, like we were at the beginning of a game that was going to go gangbusters and catapult Futurlab into the stratosphere. Hell, it sold me on a PS Vita. I wanted to play this game EVERYWHERE.

Except, it didn’t. And this is just something that Sean and I (along with Futurlab themselves) couldn’t understand. It was pure excellence from beginning to end. It launched on Xbox One a year later in 2015 (along with Mac and Linux) and again failed to take off. We at PSGamer did our very best to push the game as hard as we could, even inviting the Futurlab’s head James Marsden an our short-lived podcast to sing its praises.

Now it’s hit Nintendo Switch, and it feels like the last chance saloon for this truly magnificent experience. Futurlab have been very vocal in the fact that if this game doesn’t do well on Switch, we’re never going to see a sequel. A sequel they’ve already made.

So then, how is it on Switch? Well, what the hell do you think?

Velocity 2X is the greatest game in its genre and it has been since 2014, and just maybe the best port we’ve yet seen on Switch. It became the staple against how we judged every other game in its genre. Nothing ever came close for me, ‘is this game better than 2X? Nope’ was a long-held review barometer and one I still stand by to this day. The genre isn’t exactly empty of games either, but what it does so well is mesh platforming and free-running possibly better than any other. It takes serious, and I mean serious concentration to beat this game. It’s nothing more than a brain-frying challenge, but there’s nothing more rewarding than getting a perfect score. The levels are designed to perfection, with no space wasted in any section, its pitch-perfect mechanics complimented by masterful level design. Am I being too hyperbolic?

Perhaps. The weirdest thing is, as wonderful as it is, I don’t think this is the definitive version of the game. I believe the PS4 version just has the edge and I’ll explain why.

Velocity 2X is a vertical shmup and a side-scrolling platformer that tests you along the way at every corner. It requires pitch-perfect timing and co-ordination to pull all of this off as fast as you possibly can. It’s full of dynamic choices which require your focus and keeping a sharp eye on what’s ahead at all times whilst moving a ridiculous speeds and not ignoring any collectibles or crystals. The first few levels are designed purely to ease you in. It builds your skill levels up in a very smart way, allowing you to feel like you’re pulling off superhuman feats when really you’re just finishing the levels. By the time it gets utterly bonkers difficult you’re going to be ready for it and throwing telepods and smart bombs at every opportunity, turning any enemy into dust with ease. Velocity 2X’s greatest asset is just how user-friendly it is and how it wants you to crush it, in a very Celeste kind of way.

The platforming sections remain the highlight of 2X. Being able to navigate Kai personally rather than just her ship allows a bit of a connection to grow, and through the often very funny dialogue-heavy cut scenes you learn a little bit more about her and how she’s ended up in this part of the universe. She’s designed beautifully and makes her a unique protagonist, allowing you to mix up the arcade shooter aspects with more traditional platforming that require the exact same mechanics, speed, focus and movement but in a whole new environment. The colours explode off the Switch screen, allowing the game to look as beautiful as ever. Particularly the lighting in the platforming sequences is just wondrous.

If you’re familiar with Velocity in anyway – if you’ve played Ultra or 2X on other platforms – you’re going to know exactly what you’re getting into, how much of a time-consuming addiction 2X becomes and jumping into the Switch version I was feeling pretty damn smug that I’ll be able to tear my way through it with little issue and come out of the other side knowing I had once again finished off one of my all time favourite games (this would be the fourth time I’ve beaten it). If you have already scrolled down and had a peak at the score then you know this is a worthwhile investment, but it’s not the perfect version of the game it was when it launched. The reason? They’ve tampered with the controls and it’s infuriated me.

This is a difficult one to describe because obviously, if you’ve never played 2X before you’re simply not going to notice this and it won’t ever be an issue. I want to get that out of the way first hand. The game is naturally still excellent. However my muscle memory has taken a beating. My fingers want to move in certain ways to take on particular sections in the game but the button layout just won’t let me, and if you’ve played it before you know what i mean. You’ll spend a signification portion of the game teleporting over barriers and through areas in order to proceed. On PS4 this was on the Square button, a place that feels natural for it to be (though I probably only say this because that’s the way I want it). On Switch, it’s on X (Switch’s Triangle). This may seem like a small issue but when you’re tearing through levels and have to make many split second decisions my fingers ended up in the wrong place, and as such, I’m dead. Many times. Why? Why would they switch the buttons around? The Square alternative is now reserved for the Telepod, an item which you can place at a certain point in the level when you need to backtrack to open up new areas.

Again, if you’re new to 2X this won’t ever be a problem, I know that and it hasn’t been reflected in my final score of the game. For those who have put in as much time as I have? It could be a problem. The choice to mess with the control layout has tampered with my skill and experience and with no way to switch controls in the options it’s left a bit of a sour taste in the mouth. Something I never thought I’d say about Velocity 2X.

The control layout may frustrate returning players.

It’s a bug bear, but it doesn’t detract from the rest of 2X. The levels are designed around the movement of Kai and the ship in the vertical scrolling sections. You’ll find yourself teleporting around up, down, left and right through narrow levels with only one way to go, but every inch of the available space for navigation and progression. The structuring of each level remains unbeaten four years later, with ideas that you’ve seen replicated since but never beaten. Sequences where you can’t progress in the ship until you’ve parked up and torn through a platforming section in order to open up a new area. Moments where you can’t see where you have to go because you weren’t paying enough attention the first time, so you have to do the levels all over again (doesn’t sound fun I know, but it is. Such is the wonder of this damn game). It’s a game that once complete, will make you feel like a gaming God.

Velocity 2X then remains an absolutely unmissable experience. The control issues may initially throw off the seasoned player, and you’ll have to adjust rather dramatically, even with a single button change it’s crazy the affect it has on your knowledge of the game. That being said, it’s still utterly, utterly brilliant.

We said this four years ago and we’ll say it again right here because it’s just as important now as it was then. Perhaps more so at this point;

If you love video games, you’ll love Velocity 2X.

Velocity 2X is available now on Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, Mac, Linux and PC.

Developer: Futurlab
Publisher: Curve Digital

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publishers. For our full review policy please go here.

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