Procyon PC Review
Humanity has once again become the target of bloodthirsty aliens that poured into our galaxy through a wormhole. The humans actually put up a pretty valiant fight and were holding back the onslaught, but thanks to dwindling resources the aliens broke through. Now the last hope for survival is the experimental Procyon fighter. Your job is simple, single-handedly repel the invasion and put an end to the conflict.
The plot isn’t very original and the game is fully aware of this so it doesn’t’ take itself very seriously. Your mission briefings are doled out by a commander that sounds like Zapp Brannigan from the Futurama cartoons which is pretty funny. He doesn’t sound like he has any faith in your or the ship you are piloting which make the briefings pretty entertaining.
The story might be goofy, but there is nothing funny about the gameplay. Procyon feels like a game that came straight from the arcades and requires quick reflexes to stay alive. Instead of power-ups or upgrades you are given everything you need to survive right off the bat. The Procyon is equipped with two weapons, bullets that fire in a spread pattern and a beam capable of locking on to enemies. It only takes one hit to destroy your ship, but you have a recharging shield at your disposable. The shield only safeguards you against bullets and not collisions so you’ll still have to dodge and weave your way through enemies when it is activated.
A nice twist is that you can use your shield to overcharge your weapons. Doing so obviously drains the shield faster, but it increases the power of the weapons which is useful against bosses. All good shooters need a screen clearing special attack and in Procyon, it is lightning that shoots from the ship obliterating everything in sight. You have to destroy enemies to recharge this attack, but it is very handy when you get swarmed.
Procyon is a horizontal scrolling shooter, but the action is viewed from a top down perspective which feels a bit odd at first. You have the option to play the game in portrait mode, although this obviously adds huge borders to the sides of the display. We quite like the visuals, although the backgrounds are rather sparse.
The second level where your ship flies over a huge city at night is a definite highlight, but each level has a neat effect like clouds or shimmering heat waves. Bullets and beams are neon colored and brightly lit so there is never any doubt about what you have to avoid. The visuals are pretty basic compared to other titles in the genre, but the colors and big explosions keep it interesting.
The game only has five levels so it can be completed rather quickly, but it does have some replay value. You can play the game on the “Normal” mode where you get five lives for each level and can continue from the start of any level if you lose all your lives. “Attrition” mode starts you off with five lives and you earn one extra life per completed level but can’t continue. “Survival” mode offers the biggest by giving you only a single life with which to complete the game without continuing. There are three difficulty levels for each mode and the challenge ramps up nicely. Although not quite a bullet hell shooter, the game has more of an R-Type feel, there are a few huge bosses and plenty of chaotic action. While it only takes one hit to destroy your ship you at least continue on the spot until you run out of lives. Another nice feature is the local co-op mode that allows you to blast some aliens along with a friend.
The game ran pretty smooth on our gaming rig and worked nicely with a controller. Playing with a keyboard is possible, but games like these deserve to be played with a good controller. The audio consists of a “faux-orchestral” soundtrack (the developer’s words, not ours) and the tunes are a perfect fit for the action. I’ve played a lot of early arcade shooters and the tunes immediately brought back memories of those days. Procyon has a nice selection of achievements that go beyond the typical easy to obtain stuff. Achievements like completing a level without using a certain weapon or shield provides a nice challenge and it will require some dedication to get them all. Leaderboards, trading cards and the Steam Cloud are also fully supported.
Procyon is not the longest or best looking shooter on the market, but it is entertaining and challenging. Considering that the game is available for less than $5 on Steam there really is no reason not to give it a shot.
*Review originally published in 2014.
- OS: Windows XP
- Memory: 1 GB RAM
- Graphics: DirectX 9.0c-compatible GPU with support for Shader Model 3.0
- DirectX: Version 9.0c
- Storage: 300 MB available space
- OS: Windows 7
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: DirectX 10-compatible GPU
- DirectX: Version 10
- Storage: 300 MB available space
- Additional Notes: Requires XInput-compatible game controller for local co-op