Damnit, this review has been a year in the making. I love Syder Arcade. In fact, I’m old-school loving Syder Arcade. It was one of the first games to hit Greenlight, and it was one of the first games I had written about when I founded Greenlit Gaming. Nearly a year later, its finally on Steam where it belongs.

Of the games I have reviewed, I have probably played Syder Arcade the most just for pure enjoyment. As such, I fully understand what makes it a great game worth playing, whether or not you are a bonafide shmup fan. I also am cognisant of its limitations, but the good news is that it does so much right at its price tag that its faults are easily forgiveable.

Syder Arcade Review - The Story

Aye Captain! I will defend.

Syder Arcade is a side-scrolling shoot’em up that has you playing the pilot of one of three ships; the lightning-fast Dart, the powerhouse Wasp, or the tanky Mule. Each ship has its own combat characteristics that suits different players and strategies. For instance, while the Dart is extremely fast and relatively well armored, it lacks the explosive firepower that the lightly-armored Wasp boasts. Each ship is about compromise, and none of the three are ‘perfect’ for any particular situation. I personally love playing as the Wasp simply because I just have the most fun watching its machine gun cut down aliens, even though I can achieve higher scores with the Dart’s more precise weapon.

You’ll enjoy shredding the alien forces to pieces with your ship’s weaponry thanks to Syder Arcade’s brilliant controls. I have played many shmups in my time, and Syder Arcade’s controls are by far the best I have experienced. Playing with a 360 gamepad (which is a staple for indie gamers, in my opinion) the controls were spot on all the time, every time. All movements felt accurate and natural, which is essential for twitch-based games like this where one wrong move can be the difference between #1 on the leaderboard and failing to even crack the top 1000. The game also is bi-directional, meaning that you aren’t just flying West -to-East, but rather flipping back and forth between both enemy fronts. If the controls weren’t superb, you’d have a lot of difficulty keeping your ship oriented but thankfully that isn’t the case. You’ll be able to pilot with ease.

Syder Arcade Review - Gas Giant

Honestly, the game is gorgeous. Kudos to the artist!

The game’s pace is also fantastic, finding the perfect balance between complete-control and bullet-hell. Some shmups can feel slow and lethargic, while others can feel impossibly fast and unfair. Syder Arcade’s pace is perfect. You always feel on the brink of losing control in the game’s fastest sequences, while always feeling under constant assault. When you die, you have no-one to blame but yourself. At the same time, higher difficulties (like Pure, Syder Arcade’s highest difficulty setting) will introduce even more enemy missiles and bullets into the mix, while also making each hit significantly more lethal. The game is extremely challenging at these difficulty levels, and yet it always finds a way to remain fair. It almost makes you feel as if you could beat the game on Pure, only to kick your ass seconds later.

Syder Arcade Review - Fireworks

At higher difficulties, things can get very hectic.

While the lore and story behind the Syder universe is extensive, Syder Arcade’s relatively small scope will only act as a introduction. Simply put, the game is on the shorter side of things with six missions and an average playtime that should range within a few hours. Each mission is unique and plays distinctly different than the others, but a few more levels definitely wouldn’t have hurt. The game also features a Survival mode, which contains a single level where you essentially try to survive for as long as you possibly can while racking up a high-score for the leaderboards. I spend most of my time in Syder Arcade in the survival mode, and while its a ton of fun, another stage or two definitely would have improved replayability.

Syder Arcade Review - Survival Mode

The survival mode is a lot of fun, but it could use some variety.

Syder Arcade is one of the most beautiful indie games I have had the pleasure of playing. The environments are absolutely stunning and the weapons and combat effects are spectacular. As you progress through the campaign, your ship will get upgraded with various additional weapons which add to the visual flair of the game. I think thats why I might love playing the Wasp so much… getting its primary-weapon upgrade along with a machinegun powerup essentially changes the ship into a flying firework show. You can even apply retro graphics filters to the game from the main menu! If you’ve ever wondered what a modern game would look like on an Apple II, now you can find out. Honestly, if you like playing games that look and feel fantastic, Syder Arcade is a game you must have in your library.

Syder Arcade Review: Shooting for the Stars
Syder Arcade is an extremely fun game that finds the perfect balance between bullet-hell and action-shoot'em up. Its absolutely stunning visuals will draw you into its universe, while its impeccable controls will keep you fighting for that high score. While its a relatively short game, it still provides an enjoyable experience for shmup veterans and newcomers alike. At $10, there's a lot to love here. Buy with confidence.
The Good
  • A ton of fun
  • Great pace and controls
  • Beautiful presentation
The Bad
  • Reletively short
  • Another survival stage would have been awesome
8.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (5 Votes)
9.2