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‘Gemini Strike’ Preview – The Vertical Shoot ‘em Up Goes Freemium

IMG_3018I’ve seen a lot of different genre melds but one I’ve not really seen before is a freemium shoot ‘em up. Yet, that’s exactly what the folks at Armor Games have done with Gemini Strike, a soon to be released shooter. Based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s looking like this freemium experiment might be a cool success.

The best way to describe Gemini Strike is a standard vertical shoot ‘em up combined with a procedural loot system from the likes of Borderlands. The game is divided into missions that reward basic currency during normal playthroughs, and premium currency when you take down bosses (taking down bosses also let you advance to the next sector). Loot can be found by tracking and destroying special cargo ships that then take basic currency to unlock and open.

The loot system is pretty cool. Even in the short time I’ve played, I’ve unlocked new items that offer not only standard stat increases (attack, defense etc.) but also proc special attacks and moves such as HP recovery. Each piece of equipment can also be unlocked, raising the stats even further. The actual shooter gameplay obviously takes center stage but there’s an incredibly deep equipment system that should keep loot hunters occupied.

In my short time with Gemini Strike, but the most interesting thing I’ve noted is how non-freemium the game feels. There’s a dual currency system, but both are fairly distributed during normal playing. There aren’t any special items or cheats hidden behind IAP walls, and the game itself feels pretty balanced. In fact, the only IAP-centric element I’ve seen is an energy system to replenish lives lost during a run. Time will tell whether the game gets tough enough that additional premium currency will need to be thrown at all, but so far I doubt that’ll be the case.

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Gemini Strike seems to have all the makings of an awesome game. With challenging shoot ‘em up gameplay, fun, arcade-style “retro” visuals, a deep loot system and a fair IAP model, I’m looking forward to putting more time into it. For everyone else, the game hits the US App Store September 4th (unless you’re lucky enough to be in one of the few countries that it’s soft-launched in).