Spirits of Xanadu
Gameplay 7
Graphics 7
Sound 9

Desolate spaceships out in the depths of space always make for good game settings and Spirits of Xanadu is no exception. The game draws its inspiration from titles such as System Shock 2, but obviously cannot compete in terms of size and depth. It is still an impressive offering from a very small team though and makes for an engrossing experience. The voice acting in particular is a highlight, but the interactive environments are also a great touch. If you enjoy exploration based games and creepy locations don’t pass up on Spirits of Xanadu.

Gameplay: The focus is more on exploration than puzzle solving, but still enjoyable.

Graphics: Nothing cutting edge, but impressive enough for a small indie title.

Sound: The audio is decent, but the voice acting is very good

Summary 7.7 Great
Gameplay 0
Graphics 0
Sound 0
Summary rating from user's marks. You can set own marks for this article - just click on stars above and press "Accept".
Accept
Summary 0.0 Terrible

Spirits of Xanadu

Developer: Allen Trivette , Lee Williams | Publisher: Night Dive Studios | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam / itch.io

Flying alone to the far edges of explored space is creepy enough, but when the purpose is to investigate why a research vessel has gone very quiet it is even worse. Add to that the fact that this research vessel, the Xanadu, is in orbit around a mysterious planet and you’d have to be incredibly brave or stupid to take the job. In this game you step into the shoes of this lone operator who is tasked with finding out what befell the crew of the research vessel and then bringing it back to earth if possible.

Spirits of Xanadu is set in an alternate version of the 1980s where mankind appears to have mastered interstellar travel. The research vessel that you are sent to investigate isn’t very big as it was crewed by only three members, but obviously when you arrive things look rather bleak. The crew is nowhere in sight, the robots and defenses onboard are all set to kill and before you can move the ship anywhere it needs extensive repairs. You have the freedom to go anywhere though and along the way you get to uncover what happened by reading notes and emails or listening to the audiologs that are scattered everywhere.

The game is clearly influenced by classics, such as Deus Ex and System Shock 2, but since it was made by a very small team of indie developers it is obviously a little less ambitious. The developers still crammed a lot into the small playing area and made sure that the environments are as interactive as possible. The game is viewed from a first person perspective and although it features three different weapons I wouldn’t really classify it as a shooter. Enemies are limited to about three different types of robots and if you really hate conflict you can even play in “peaceful” mode, which turn them all passive. Your mission is also very straightforward and with a bit of exploring you can easily power the Xanadu back up and complete your mission. If this is all you do though you’ll be missing out on a big chunk of what makes the game so special.

Spirits of Xanadu actually features three different endings and obtaining all of them will require you to scour every nook and cranny of the ship. The game uses a simple visual style, so don’t expect photo realistic textures. However, the look does fit in nicely with the alternate timeline featured in the game. Options wise you can enable FXAA and SSAO as well as depth of field and bloom. The shadow quality can also be adjusted and you can toggle effects such as motion blur, bloom and film grain. The result is actually pretty good considering the amount of people who worked on the game and thanks to the great atmosphere it is quite immersive.

You start out in the shuttle bay after docking your own smaller vessel with the Xanadu and from there can explore areas such as the engine room, engineering section, medical bay, laboratory, offices, bridge, crew quarters and more. At no point does the game hold your hand, so you are pretty much left to your own devices when it comes to figuring out what is going on. Some people will love this, while others will probably end up missing important clues and wandering around aimlessly.

Despite the spooky premise and creepy location the game doesn’t resort to cheap scare tactics. The robotic enemies in the game can surprise you if you stumble into them, especially the suicidal ones, but you won’t encounter scripted jump scares. Your character can get hurt, but recovers without the need for health packs. If you do manage to get yourself killed you simply respawn back in the brig of the ship. The interactive environments are definitely the best part of the game and I wasted quite a bit of time messing around with the basketball, guitar and zombie arcade game. In addition, drawers can be opened and closed, toilets flushed, food eaten, drinks consumed and you can even smoke so much that your character passes out from it! It is not just audiologs and hidden pages that you’ll discover as you explore either, but also a nice selection of Easter eggs.

Although your character never utters a word, the voice acting in the audiologs you find are very good. These offer a fascinating glimpse into what occurred on the Xanadu before your arrival and range from touching to disturbing. For the most part the game is quite quiet, which allows you to concentrate on the audiologs or keep an ear open for the robots roaming about. The sound effects are also more functional than memorable. Spirits of Xanadu is best played using a traditional keyboard and mouse setup, but if you are really determined, it can also be played using a controller. The latter works best if you play the game in peaceful mode, but if you are used to playing console first person shooters you’ll feel right at home using a controller. The game doesn’t use checkpoints or auto-saves and instead requires you to activate one of the numerous terminals found throughout the ship to record your mission data.

Players who are fans of the games from which Spirits of Xanadu draws its inspiration will find this game to be an enjoyable experience. Personally, I would have liked to see it up the creepiness factor even more as at times the game can feel a bit too sedate. The short playtime is also a drawback, but the multiple endings definitely adds to the replay value. Overall I enjoyed my time aboard the Xanadu though and despite some shortcomings the game is definitely worth checking out.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP SP2 or later
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz dual-core
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Dedicated graphics card with 512MB of VRAM and shader model 3.0
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 900 MB available space
  • OS: Windows XP SP2 or later
  • Processor: 2.451 GHz dual-core
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Dedicated graphics card with 512MB of VRAM and shader model 3.0
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 900 MB available space

Related posts

DoDonPachi Resurrection

DoDonPachi Resurrection

Not everyone enjoys navigating a hail of bullets with pinpoint precision while retaliating with excessive firepower, but if bullet hell shooters are your thing then you can’t go wrong with DoDonPachi Resurrection. The story will probably be lost on most players and the game can be very daunting at first, but it packs a wealth of modes and options. The action is relentless and chasing highscores is undeniably addictive. This Steam version does suffer from a couple of minor issues, but overall it is a great example of the genre and one that all shooter fans will want to add to their collection. Gameplay: The action is relentless, but very addictive. Graphics: Good, but the playing area is rather small and mostly filled with bullets. Sound: The soundtrack is fast paced and upbeat while the sound effects deserves to be cranked up high.

Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart

Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart

Rescue your daughter from the clutches of an undead pirate in this enjoyable hidden object game. Or, if hidden object hunting is not your thing, do so instead by playing a couple of solo Mahjong rounds. The Cursed Heart features an interesting storyline, great locations and plenty of puzzles to solve. The only thing holding it back is the low resolution cut-scenes and less than stellar voice acting. Gameplay: Rather easy, but very enjoyable. Graphics: The locations look great, but the cut-scenes plays at a very low resolution. Sound: Nice music and sound effects, but the voice acting could have been better.

The Last Door – Collector’s Edition

The Last Door - Collector's Edition

Despite the fact that you can play most of the chapters for free online I still recommend this collector's edition of the game. The story is superb and the low resolution visuals are not as big a hindrance as you might think. The audio steals the show however with great sound effects and some outstanding tunes. Hopefully the wait until season two won't be too long as the adventures of Jeremiah Devitt is still far from over. Gameplay: Some nice puzzles, but nothing that is too obscure or frustrating. Graphics: Very low res, but once your eyes adjust you will barely notice. Sound: The audio really carries this game with bags of atmosphere from the great tunes and spooky sound effects.

Sakura Space

Sakura Space

The Sakura series heads into space for a yuri adventure with this release by Winged Cloud. Players get to experience what happens when Captain Shika and her crew of mercenaries stumbles across the bounty of a lifetime. Although it might look like you have choices in the game, it plays out more like a kinetic novel, but offers some entertainment nonetheless. We would recommend sticking to the uncensored version though, as it offers a bit more content. Gameplay: There are some interesting story elements, but the focus is mostly on the ecchi escapades of the girls. Graphics: The artwork by Inma is gorgeous as always, but the cast is small and the locations limited. Sound: No voice acting and decent, but unremarkable music.

Alpha Kimori™ 1

Alpha Kimori™ 1

Alpha Kimori has a very interesting backstory, and while it only clocks in at about five hours, it does set things up nicely for the rest of the trilogy. The visuals are a blast from the past, and fans of classic 16-bit RPGs will really enjoy the game. It is let down by some frequent backtracking, but definitely worth completing in order to uncover the whole story. Gameplay: Classic SNES era JRPG but with less grinding and thankfully enemies are visible. Graphics: Runs on the RPG Maker engine, but with some nice custom art. Sound: Great theme song, crisp sound effects, and nice tunes.

So Many Me

So Many Me

The whimsical visuals might fool you into thinking that this is just another easy platform title, but So Many Me packs a lot of tricky puzzles as well. Completing the levels is easy enough that players of all skill levels have a fair shot, but finding all the costumes and relics takes considerably more skill. If you are looking for a polished and addictive platformer, then look no further than So Many Me. Gameplay: A charming platformer with a strong emphasis on puzzle solving. Graphics: Packed with detail, color and personality. Sound: The catchy soundtrack is a perfect match for the light-hearted visual style.

Leave a comment

8 + eight =