Finding a good game that few other people know about is a double edged feeling. It’s almost akin to being the first in your of circle friends to find a great band. You mentally high five yourself for making a great discovery, but then you realize that not everyone is going to catch on like you did. Now, like many pioneers, you’re alone in your discovery. Knowing you have something awesome here, but at the same time faced with the truth that even though it’s awesome, it may never be as big as you know it can be. Meet Xelorians, my new favorite space shooter on Android. that has helped me keep my wife up late at night for a week as I feverishly defend HomeWorld against an onslaught of enemy invaders from the comfort of my bed.
Developed by AXL-Dynamics Xelorians is, for all intents and purposes, your standard space shooter. What makes it stand out however, is the additional tweeks that have made bullet hell not so hellish on a touch screen. Like Sky Force and Sky Force Reloaded, Xelorians is controlled through the use of the players finger. Your ship will track your touch regardless of speed or location on the screen. This allows you to be quite nimble in your play style. In addition to this now common mechanic AXL-Dynamics added a function where if the player lifts their finger from the screen the game will automatically pause. A pretty awesome feature in a game where dexterity is king.
Xelorians takes place over the course of one main Episode “Homeworld” that consists of six stages (plus one bonus stage after you’ve completed the game). From the menu there is a “Coming Soon....” tag on a second Episode “Red Baron”, but as of this writing there is no word on when the second world will be released. For each level you’re given a choice of difficulty from Easy to Very Hard. You are scored based on the amount of destruction you cause in each difficulty setting for each stage. Your total score is then aggregated and compiled into a global leader board (Last I checked I was 12xxth). This can lead to a little redundancy when playing, but is a cool mechanism to go back and try levels out on different difficulty settings.
The experience of Xelorians could be described as taking a handful of No-Doz and getting cracked in the face with a wiffle ball bat. It’s adrenaline pumping, frantic, and painful all at the same time. Enemies approach from all directions, some with kamikazee intentions, others to attack and flee. In order to defend yourself yellow Xelorian crystals will drop from your enemies which will upgrade your standard weapons. There are also a wide variety of limited use guns and other power-ups that drop for your benefit. Careful though, confusing power-ups and stray bullets is deadly, so tread carefully. By the end of each stage your wrist is going to hurt, your eyes are going to be sore, and what’s most surprising, you’re going to play it again.
For $1.99 Xelorians offers a somewhat small, but extremely polished experience. The focus here is clearly on quality over quantity, yet I’m still anxious for that first upgrade. Anyone who remembers old school shooters from the 90’s will respect the play style of Xelorians and appreciate the modern graphics and sounds AXL-Dynamics have created. Strap in, put your finger on screen, and most of all remember “Don’t blink. Don’t even Blink. Blink and you’re dead.”