As a seasoned veteran of the brutal bullet-hell genre and “twitchy” gameplay, Radar Warfare was a title that I had to get my hands on and try out. Games such as Super Hexagon and Sound Dodger provided me tens of hours of simplistic, challenging, and focus-driven gameplay. As personal favorites of mine, those games were perfect for quick, 10-minute sessions in between homework assignments or in a car ride. I had hoped Radar Warfare would be able to provide for a similar experience.
After playing several hours of Radar Warfare, I concluded that while fundamentally it had what it took to be a great game, it fell short on most aspects of a memorable and enjoyable title.
Developed by the Brazilian indie game company DreamRoad Productions, Radar Warfare is a bullet-hell avoidance game. The player controls a ship that can move in any direction on a 2D surface, shooting enemy ships which spawn projectiles that the player is meant to dodge. In addition to the 5x lives you get at the beginning of each game, each of the three unlockable ships has a unique ability to assist in your survival. The game is playable using a mouse and keyboard, controller, or available on touchscreen mobile devices.
There are two main modes: story mode and endless mode. I found story mode to be where the game shines, and frankly the only mode that was worth playing. Each story mode level consists of 9 stages, with 3 bosses (one boss after every 3 stages). There are three levels of story mode, each with increasing difficulty. Endless mode, on the other hand, is simple survival. 5x lives and your unique ability are granted to you to survive for as long as you can.
The fun in Radar Warfare is found through dodging the red projectiles which quickly overwhelm you if you don’t manage the enemies’ spawn positions. You have to focus your ship’s cannon at the enemy ships while dodging the endless stream of bullets. The difficulty will sweep you away if you’re not well-versed in bullet-hell games, and many will find it frustrating. I, however, think that the difficulty is a strong suit because it allows you to experience growth as you improve at the game.
The art style of Radar Warfare is charming enough, albeit nothing out of the ordinary. Minimalistic ships, bullets, and a circular rotating radar grid give the game a futuristic vibe which fits the nature of the game. It is easy to distinguish the red bullets, however, it is often difficult to keep track of your white ship, as the enemy ships and the bullets your ship shoots are also white, which can make gameplay downright frustrating at times.
The soundtrack shares a similar sentiment: initially, I liked the soundtrack, but it turns out that there is only one track that plays during gameplay, which obviously gets very repetitive. I found that this could be remedied just by listening to my own music on Spotify, which is something I frequently did with Super Hexagon.
I really think that Radar Warfare has a lot of potential. As a fan of bullet-hell games, here are some suggestions that could make Radar Warfare a memorable title.
Why not recolor the ships? It’d be awesome to know where I am and where the enemies are just based off of peripheral vision. Currently, this isn’t possible because both are the same color.
Next, how about telegraphing the enemy spawns? Far too often I found ships would spawn right on top of me (with no warning) and unfairly take away one of my precious lives. It’d be a nice addition to show a red blip where one is about to appear.
Lastly, endless mode needs an overhaul. To put it bluntly, I think endless mode is boring; the difficulty is the same at 10 seconds as it is at 60 seconds. The mode would be more enjoyable if it was possible to obtain more lives, reward the player for staying alive, and have there be a difficulty progression. Sadly, the mode isn’t worth playing in its current state.
The replay value is not there for Radar Warfare, once you beat the 3 story levels you’d be justified to uninstall the game. For a game of this nature, replay value should be expected and not a luxury. Making endless mode appealing could give Radar Warfare the edge that it needs.
While there are some obvious flaws to Radar Warfare, it is a game worthy of your 99 cents on Steam, and if you have any interest in it, it’s available on iOS and Android for free! It’s definitely worth a shot for such modest pricing.
A concern that I have for the game long-term is that it was released in October 2017, yet the developers have stated in late January 2018 that they’re already planning the final update for the game. This would leave the lackluster game at an even worse point than it is now.
In sum, Radar Warfare is a mostly humdrum game that might be worth giving a shot if you find yourself with an extra 99 cents sitting in your Steam wallet. The difficulty of the game as a bullet-hell isn’t justified because it just doesn’t feel rewarding to beat.