|Classification:||Game / Adventure Shooter|
Psytronik is off to a wonderful start in 2018, with their latest release from game developer Lasse Öörni, Steel Ranger. You take the role of a bionic space soldier, as you battle an AI controlled army in the year 2218.
It took me less than half an hour, playing the free demo version of this game, to decide to buy the download version of the game. Psytronik has announced that they will be releasing a boxed disk version of this game in March, but I just didn't want to wait to explore this game's expansive, beautifully designed world. The game map of this game is truly remarkable. It amazes me that Lasse has been able to get all of this crammed in to one floppy disk.
Apart from the fantastic environment, the story is intriguing, the game play is very responsive, the soundtrack is fantastic and the graphic and special effects are really well done. It reminds me a lot of Turrican or Metroid, but with some enhancements. A couple of these enhancements include an in-game map and the ability to save your game and pick it up at a later time. I really like this, as I don't have the time, like I used to in my younger days, to sit in front of the computer for several hours and play a game through from beginning to end.
One of the really great things about Steel Ranger is that the game map is open; that is, you can return to a part you've already been through to explore when you gain enhancements to your suit. At one point in the game, you get a suite upgrade that allows you to transform into “wheel” mode. In this mode, you can drop mines and get into tight spaces - which usually leads to discovering secret areas.
Some enhancements to your suit can be “purchased” with spare parts. As you blast enemy bots, they sometimes drop parts. You collect these parts, which you can then use to improve your suit's abilities, or use them as land mines, when in “wheel mode”.
The game developer, Lasse, is the same person who created Hessian (which is also available for free download). I've played Hessian and thought, overall, it is a good game. However, the controls can be frustrating, especially when it comes to stair climbing, and shooting while crouching. Several of the enemies in Hessian are close to the ground, so you have to crouch and shoot. The problem is getting your character to do so, as I didn't find it all that intuitive to do it efficiently. You have to press down on the joystick and hold the fire button, then press in the direction you want to shoot (left or right). Thankfully, Steel Ranger addressed these issues and improves the controls, making them much more fluid and intuitive.
Steel Ranger also has some really great boss battles. And with the ability to choose your difficulty level, the game should appeal to just about every gamer out there. This game is truly an instant classic and really shows how much fun the Commodore 64 can really be, even by today's gaming standards.
I strongly urge you to give this one a try! Well done to all of those involved in bringing this game to life.
You can find out more about the game and pick up a copy for yourself from the Psytronik webpage: https://psytronik.itch.io/steelranger