Qute are a name that permeates throughout the SHMUP genre and while not quite as well known to all as CAVE or Psikyo, they are loved by hardcore fans of the genre. I’ve never played a Qute title before so I was eager to jump into the highly regarded title Eschatos, does it slap? Let’s find out.
Initially releasing on the XBox 360 and then Steam we have been given the Nintendo Switch version to review, much like the previous releases this game also comes with two Wonderswan Shmups named Judgement Silversword and Cardinal Sins.
Graphically Eschatos is really showing its age, even for the 360 era it would have been pushing it as a graphical powerhouse. Everything is fine here but nothing really stands out, it feels like a homage to the early Saturn/32X days of basic and blocky enemies and the odd sprite here and there.
The duo of Judgement Silvergun and Cardinal Sins are charming visually but really basic being they are from the Wonderswan, think Game Gear/Master System style shmups, plenty of enemies and bullets to dodge but the backgrounds really leave much to desire.
Presentation is where Eschatos absolutely nails it and converted me to the church of Qute within the space of one single play session.
Eschatos is set across 26 stages which last around a minute or so each which may not sound like much but this is a non stop, white knuckle ride from launch to the dark side of the moon.
The game doesn’t stop for score screens or a break, from the second you start until the credits roll the game is one consistent run.
This helps create a strong narrative without actually having to write one, it’s such a unique take on how Shmups are done and should be applauded.
Despite being a vertical shooter the camera sweeps and moves around your ship displaying angles that you’d normally associate with rail shooters like Panzer Dragoon and the like.
It’s so poignantly unique for the genre it makes you wonder why no one else ever poached the idea as coupled with the game flow makes you feel like you’re on the Shmup Rollercoaster.
Musically the game nails it with some outright headbanging tunes that consume your very thoughts outside of the game and while you’re playing it transport you to the arcade of your mind.
The gameplay is fairly simple for the genre, as mentioned it’s a vertical shooter set across 26 levels. You have a full length long shot and a half range wide shot, you have a shield which recharges over time and protects the front of your ship when pressed and bombs are now collectable items instead of stackable.
The scoring is based on how many enemies in a wave you take out and is sometimes tongue in cheek presented to you in the vein of Space Invaders, it’s a brilliant throwback with a simple to learn but addictive score system.
There are multiple difficulties and so much to unlock from every run you do, there is also an achievement system which helps you see your progress in real time and have targets to aim for. You also have Advanced Mode which adds new features in the game involving medals to pick up which can be used as a shield and a weapon and enhanced scoring mechanics.
There is also Time Attack mode which sees you running through the game versus a constantly decreasing timer, score better and you’ll earn time back, die and you lose time.
There are also online leaderboards, plenty of wallpapers to choose from and even several different soundtracks to bop to while you whittle your hours away taking down the aliens.
All of this coupled with the bonus 2 games and you’ve got so much quality Shmup bang for your buck it’s hard not to fall in love with the package Qute have put together.
I only experienced slowdown when playing the game in Tate mode and it certainly wasn’t bad enough to ruin the game, just a shame it wasn’t optimized for its native setting.
I am so eager to see the other titles Qute have put out appear on my favourite little Shmup machine and aside from the above mentioned issue I cannot get enough Eschatos.
What may have been one of the genres best kept secrets may be ready to become common knowledge and the lines for the Shmup Rollercoaster experience known as Eschatos shall cover the land all the way to the moon.
A rollercoaster of an arcade experience. Shmup brilliance
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