Review: Paranautical Activity: Deluxe Atonement Edition – A Fun Yet Imperfect Retro Shooter
When I first heard of Paranautical Activity I thought the concept of mixing together Binding of Issac, a Roguelike title (a genre that features randomly generated levels created after each player death), and Doom was an interesting one to say the least.
Originally Paranautical Activity was slated for release last year but the developer had some issues with the Steam release. It was finally published this year under a new publisher as the Deluxe Atonement Edition, featuring new content and a lower price point.
The game starts off with the option of choosing between four characters who come with unique guns and stats, and with two more characters that are unlocked through in-game achievements.
Considering the type of weapon each character wields, each one of them will have a different playstyle. Additionally, some characters can use a secondary weapon from the beginning, while others will have to find one along the way.
Once you choose your character, the game takes you right into the action, requiring you to defeat a wave of monsters found in the first room.
After defeating that wave, you’ll have to move on to the next room, in which you will either find another wave of monsters, a boss or mid-boss that rewards you with an item with a permanent stat-changing effect for that playthrough.
Once every room on a floor is cleared out, you’ll move on to the next where you will be facing off another wave of enemies. Luckily, the game is generous with money drops, which can be used to buy more health and shields.
Controls are simple and, most importantly, run quite smoothly. Using your mouse, you aim and left or right click to shoot or throw a grenade respectively. Shift controls the secondary weapon (if your character has one) and space bar is jump. You can also change the mouse’s sensitivity to adjust aiming speed.
Paranautical Activity isn’t a title where you can just randomly shoot things and expect not to die, however. It requires strategy and plenty of patience. While passing through the first floor isn’t so difficult, progressing through following floors is when the difficulty of each encounter spikes.
In terms of graphics, even though personally I’m not fan of the Minecraft-like visuals, monsters in general are well designed and detailed; not to mention the game visuals on their own are very clean and polished. Fans of the retro look will certainly appreciate this and the all-around attention to detail.
There are a couple issues with the title, however, that serve to dampen the experience a bit.
For instance, despite the fact it’s supposed to be a Rougelike-inspired title, the randomly generated rooms and floors aren’t so random. On your following try after a death, you’ll notice that the level design in the next run is only slightly different from the previous run’s, which is rather disappointing.
Another issue is that despite the difficulty and relatively unique design of each level, the game is only fun for short runs. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly a blast to play in smaller bursts but not entertaining enough to hold me for much longer playthoughs, even becoming a little stale at times.
Despite these setbacks, if you enjoy plenty of challenge within a simplistic design in a first person shooter setting, for the $10 price tag Paranautical Activity is definitely a title worth owning.