The idea behind the TouchArcade Game of the Week is that every Friday afternoon we post the one game that came out this week that we think is worth giving a special nod to. Now, before anyone goes over-thinking this, it doesn’t necessarily mean our Game of the Week pick is the highest scoring game in a review, the game with the best graphics, or really any other quantifiable “best" thing. Instead, it’s more just us picking out the single game out of the week’s releases that we think is the most noteworthy, surprising, interesting, or really any other hard to describe quality that makes it worth having if you were just going to pick up one.
These picks might be controversial, and that’s OK. If you disagree with what we’ve chosen, let’s try to use the comments of these articles to have conversations about what game is your game of the week and why.
Without further ado…
Steredenn is a horizontal shoot ’em up from developer Pixelnest Studio that launched on iOS in May of last year, and is one of my very favorite games to date. So why am I talking about it here? Well this week Fantastico Studio launched their new game Black Paradox ($3.99), and it’s so similar in concept to Steredenn that it’s hard to talk about one without talking about the other. Both games are horizontal shoot ’em ups with roguelike elements; namely that each level you play is randomly generated in terms of enemy types and patterns but there’s a set structure to the level progression and boss fights. Another rogue-ish influence is in the weaponry you gain during play and a selection of power-ups that you can collect upon defeating bosses that only lasts for your current playthrough.
These roguelike elements are an absolutely perfect fit with a shoot ’em up. Randomly generated levels means you have to act on instinct rather than rote memorization, and the power-up system ensures you’re getting stronger as the game progresses and gets more difficult. Death is never a bummer because you almost always feel like you just reached your limit, but your skills have improved through play and you just KNOW you’ll be able to get a little bit further in that next run. It’s the exact same feeling you get playing a more traditional roguelike dungeon crawler, but in shooter form.
While the basic concept of Steredenn and Black Paradox are identical, there are differences that set them apart from each other. Visually Black Paradox is more colorful with a heavy 1980s neon vibe, and there’s plenty of pop culture references in the storyline. That’s another thing, Black Paradox has a story. Steredenn sort of does too but it’s more pronounced here. Also the weapons, which is one of the highlights of both games, are different and extremely inventive in Black Paradox and a big part of the fun is figuring out how to best use them. Finally Black Paradox features a Garage where you can use the credits you earn during play to add some permanent upgrades to your ship that’ll carry over to subsequent playthroughs.
It’s kind of weird talking about a game that’s SO similar to another game, but Black Paradox is different enough from Steredenn that I really enjoy them both on their own merits. It’s like Steredenn is the heavy metal shooter and Black Paradox is its hair metal cousin. One thing to note is that Black Paradox is MUCH more difficult right out of the gate, probably to justify your ability to permanently upgrade some of your ship’s stats. Just don’t expect to get very far when you’re just starting out. If you enjoyed last year’s Steredenn or just shooters in general, I think you’ll have a good time with Black Paradox as well.