Chaotic Space Arcade Madness – Vortex Attack Review

Aug 21, 2015 by

We explode spaceships with other spaceships in our review of the arcade style shooter Vortex Attack.

Developer: Kaleido Games
PublisherKaleido Games
Review Platform: PC (Steam)
Review Copy Provided By: Kaleido Games
Release Date: May 27, 2015

“Game over, please try again, save the galaxy.” I saw this screen more times than I’m willing to count while playing Vortex Attack. It was the game’s addictive arcade nature that kept bringing me back, trying to beat high scores and collect all of the game’s unlockables. On the surface, Vortex Attack is a very simple arcade shooter, but that’s not a bad thing. It isn’t bogged down with extra features, and the result is a streamlined arcade game that does what it set out to do very well.

Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way: I played this game for about 5 hours at the time this review, but I have no doubt that I’ll go back for more. In this time, I made it through the games main campaign and tested some of the multiplayer as well. I benchmarked it on three machines and found, surprisingly, that it requires some level of processing power to run at its full 60FPS. For more information, here’s a link to the recommended specs to run the game. Also, while the game does allow for keyboard play, I would recommend using a controller to get the full arcade experience.

The basic premise of Vortex Attack is similar to older arcade shooters like Galaga and Defender: You are a spaceship, shooting other spaceships, while collecting powerups to make you more efficient at shooting other spaceships. It’s a simple concept, but surprisingly addictive and very well made. The art style is strange and does a good job of differentiating enemy types before they are blasted into oblivion by frantic button mashing.

Oh, the game was too easy? How about a screen full of soul-crushing asteroids?!

The best feature of Vortex Attack is its sudden, chaotic nature. The first few levels are a walk in the park, with waves of aliens that are simple to dispatch, but the difficulty level ratchets up quickly after you exit the first world. At first, the intense curve was a little frustrating, but I found that it was just a matter of grinding to checkpoints and unlocking more ships. The game can be beaten with the first ship you unlock; I haven’t done it, but someone has. However, the game gets much easier with more play, as each boss you defeat unlocks a newer ship, which often comes with different specifications.

Vortex Attack’s campaign is also simple, featuring a series of increasingly different worlds with varying enemies, each ending with a difficult boss. A full run-through of the campaign took me around 30 minutes, but that’s not counting the time I needed to get the ship that I completed it with.  Each run through is a little different from the last, as the power ups that drop are slightly different. These power-ups can upgrade your ship, multi-shot, and fire rate, as well as a host of other options. It’s the randomness of these upgrades that helps the game retain replayability, even if levels themselves don’t vary that much.

Nearly fully upgraded multi-shot, bullet damage, and rapid fire = bye bye aliens.
Nearly fully upgraded multi-shot, bullet damage, and rapid fire = bye bye aliens.

I also had a chance to get into the multiplayer with one friend (it allows for up to four players). The difficulty scaled well, and before we knew it, we had sunk a few hours into the campaign, taunting each other and competing for high scores. I can’t imagine what four players would look like, but its likely more colorful madness, just like the rest of the game.

In the end, Vortex Attack is chaotic, simple, and fun. Dropping in with friends is a breeze, and is an easy way to kill a few hours. Controller use definitely improves gameplay, and playing with friends enhances the experience. I would highly recommend it as a cheap pick up for a fun arcade shooter.

Review Overview


Vortex Attack doesn't break the arcade shooter mold, and it doesn't have to. The simple mechanics, combined with a fun variety of enemies to disintegrate, lead to chaotic and addictive battles. Varied ships, power-ups, and bonuses give it high replay value, and it allows for same-screen multiplayer (a rarity in this age). Overall, it's cheap, it's fun, and I highly recommend it.

About Ashton Macaulay

Ashton lives in the Ewok village that is Redmond Washington, enjoys gaming, writing, and a good pug.

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