Developer Anthony Case and publisher Digerati present Straimium Immortaly for review on the Nintendo Switch. Straimium Immortaly aims at combining the old-school difficulty of arcade shooters, a sickly aesthetic, and randomized elements to make each play through a unique challenge. By learning the challenges in each area of the pulsing organic cube, the player may power up and overcome enough enemies to best the taunting biomechanical meatball that is giving birth to monstrosities.
Straimium Immortaly is immediately odd to control. The shooting and maneuvering are akin to an older arcade game like Defender where the little floating avatar can only shoot left or right. Also like Defender, there’s a dodge mechanic that may result in putting the player into more harm than they might have guessed. Where Straimium Immortaly departs is in its squishy organic designs that, to put it charitably, make the environments look like a moldy spore that wedged itself into the latter portions of a GI tract. This makes many of the enemies and obstacles difficult to discern as the background and foreground amidst the plane of action is rarely clear. As this is a modern randomizer shooter, layouts and powerups change each play through with a few options available to carry over between attempts.
Straimium Immortaly is in an uncomfortable spot between the arcade shooters of the past and the increased complexity of the present. The premise of exploring a cube, killing the baddies, and escaping is one worth the price of a quarter (or two, if you frequented a more expensive arcade). But as a game that I play on the Nintendo Switch, being subjected to the cutesy wootsy descriptions and gross organic environments, it quickly wears out its welcome.
The biggest calling card of Straimium Immortaly is that organic nastiness is also the greatest source of frustration. Well over double-digit hours into my attempts and the distinction between background to foreground never cleared up as both have living creatures pulsing in different colors. This is made worse as many of the rooms can start with enemies immediately firing upon entry. Compared to a game like Pig Eat Ball, where the gross out aesthetic is used to great comedic effect, trying to piece together what’s going on in Straimium Immortaly is like someone smearing toothpaste on your eyeballs.
This assumes you’ll be able to last through multiple attempts of godawful information conveyed through cutesy wootsy dialogue. Item descriptions, narrative cues, shopkeepers, and random NPCs that can be challenged all speak in sentences where punctuation is mostly outlawed and additional vowels break up otherwise satisfactory words. Discerning just what some items do is an unnecessarily frustrating task because of Straimium Immortaly‘s insistence on hewing to this approximation of what toddlers speak like as remembered by adults. Thing is – toddlers learn and have scattered speech but still manage to make themselves comprehensible on a daily basis to get their needs met. Straimium Immortaly‘s approach is just a schtick that wears itself out well before I was able to complete a run.
Classic arcade shooters would sometimes have dedicated buttons for left and right shooting, something that would have made Straimium Immortaly at least tolerable. Since I could only shoot in one direction at a time and the backgrounds were doing their darnedest to keep me from identifying foe from non-interactive detail, the additional actions – like dodging or special attacks – are cumbersome. As the basics of the combat and movement are already annoying to grasp, completing a run was a chore to force myself through instead of a challenge I felt empowered to overcome.
The boss battles, at least, are a bright spot amid the annoying room-to-room gameplay. They take place in environments that lack most of the fore to background object ambiguity. It’s here where additional challenges, like a damaging acid pouring in from the top and bottom of the screen, tighten the focus on the avatar and enemy into battles that nearly make up for the hassle in getting there. Other breaks, like a Tempest-esque tunnel where I had to dodge enemies in a 360 tube, are welcome breaks from the confused drudgery of the main hub. Bosses and breaks like that aren’t the core of Straimium Immortaly‘s experience though, and Straimium Immortaly‘s primary gameplay loop sucks.
This version of Straimium Immortaly was played and is being reviewed for the Nintendo Switch console. A review copy was provided for this review.
Straimium Immortaly is a hodgepodge of juvenile obsession. There's the grossout potential of organisms, a poorly implemented control and shooting system, aggravating dialogue approximating toddler speech but never coming close to the potential of clarity in that communication, and a welcome break when bosses get to take the stage. That's a small blessing in a rough mix of elements better served in much better games.
- Boss battles are tight challenges that cut down the needless confusion of room-to-room gameplay.
- One of the most annoying dialogue and information systems I've ever encountered as it approximates toddler speech in arguably the most unclear manner possible.
- Glowing organic environments and enemies make learning how to navigate a chore as fore and background elements blend together in unclear moss.
- Does not go far enough in either the classic arcade shooter or modern complex roguelite construction to make basic gameplay engaging.
Do Not Resuscitate