A maze of rooms infested with mutants descends 50 floors. As you work your way through the dark corridors, your flashlight and your guns are your only friends. The deeper you go, the more horrific and numerous the monstrosities lurking just out of view.
Xenowerk’s smooth, polished graphics make it easy to get sucked into the shadowy levels. Control the top-down perspective by tapping the camera button to reset your perspective behind you, and keep your eyes open for threats coming in from off-screen. Character animations are fluid and the lighting is used to excellent effect. There’s something reminiscent of Samus Aran, the star of the Metroid series in your female soldier’s swagger, something familiar in her cold blue eyes, but nothing else about the game gives the impression of ripping from that particular franchise.
Xenowerk is broken up into different facilities, each with 10 or 20 floors that increase in difficulty and size. That doesn’t mean the game increases in complexity. Mission objectives remain basic – blow up a generator, kill an abomination, use the terminal to access something or other — but the controls are easy to adjust, responsive, and sharp. The quality of the interface is a great complement to the graphics. There was one odd choice; the game plumbs your phone’s contacts and displays them on the start screen in alphabetical order. Since it’s unlikely that your aunts will be playing this, it’s a waste of screen real estate and the one visual mistake this game makes.
Overall, excellent presentation keeps Xenowerk interesting, despite the repetitive nature of the mission designs. Every major section will get a little intro from your mission commander, but they’re little more than the thin threads of a story. It would be nice if the Android shooter had another layer or two; perhaps more variety in mission structure or a minigame, but what it does do, Xenowerk does well. It’s all about killing mutants.
Splattering incoming enemies in swift succession boosts your score multiplier. Upgrading your weapon is the key to more killing power; in-game, dying creatures drop weapon parts that will upgrade the strength of the weapons you’re carrying. In between floors, you can use the coins you earn killing mutants on buying new guns and armor sets.
You can gain a max three radioactive-rating on each floor. Each death automatically cancels out one rating. Choose to respawn or restart the floor and reset your rating chance. Clear every mutant for the bonus you need to put you over the top.
Of course, if you want to skip all the hard work, you can just go to the in-game store and buy yourself a “salary advance.” Admittedly, the max you can spend is $3.37, and that gets you more than enough gold to buy all the best gear in the game. Unless Pixelbite plans on adding more guns or gear, there’s little point to it, especially considering the game itself costs two bucks.
Clearing the spitting, invisible, or giant experiments-gone-wrong from the labyrinthine floors illuminated by emergency lights and soda machines can be nerve-wracking. The good kind of nerve-wracking that has you replaying levels for high scores on the leaderboard. Xenowerk‘s polish makes mutants terrifying again, and in a world populated by hundreds of mutant-blasting action games, this Android shooter manages to keep the gameplay creepy and keep players on their toes.
Solid, shiny top-down shooter makes mutilating mutants fun.