Nov 24, 2017 Last Updated 1:32 AM, Nov 23, 2017

Dr. Spacezoo Early Access Review

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If you've ever wanted to run around the galaxy and destroy artificially intelligent space stations while rescuing helpless space animals, well, Dr. Spacezoo is your dream come true.

You play as a tiny spaceship with infinite ammo as you fly to space zoos across the galaxy and free the animals from the A.I. systems which have gone haywire.

Dr. Spacezoo is fast-paced, exhilarating, frustrating, and a really great challenge. There are around ten levels in each of the ten sectors of the galaxy. Each level gives you a more challenging one to face up against, with each sector increasing in level complexity. The very first levels in our home system of Sol were easy, as to be expected, and give a good handle on how the game is played. It took me multiple tries to beat the first boss, and following bosses only get more difficult.

Your goal in Dr. Spacezoo is to retrieve a single sample of a particular species, and then leave the level. The problem is, there's a rogue A.I. that has armed the defenses and you have to dodge, shoot, and explode your way through the zoo in order to retrieve the certain animal for study. Which animal you have to find changes each time you play the level, but where it is located within the level, as far as I could tell, never moved.

The game is in early access, but it'd be hard to notice until you get to the last sector of the galaxy where our scientist friend from the beginning calmly explains, “This level is still under construction.” The entire time I played up until then, there was no indication that this game was early access. It played as a well-made game, and aside from a couple of standard bugs and glitches here and there, the game was solid.

Gameplay is twitch style, and you'll need to be on the ball because your ship is sensitive. You have multiple types of weapons which will be upgraded as you play through the game. Some are homing, while others are shotgun style, or just simple a giant laser beam. There was enough variety of these weapons to find uses for each depending on the situation, how many enemies, how many animals around me, etc.

Each time you pick up the animals that wander around you gain health back, and in addition to the upgrades that drop off dead enemies, you'll usually end the level stronger than you started. The one downside to this though, if you shoot animals you will get points deducted. So you must be mindful of where your lasers are going. This because almost impossible at later levels when robots and animals are surrounding you and a giant drill machine is about to shoot a devastating laser at you.

There was more than one instance of hair pulling as I nearly killed the bosses, only to be hit with some devastating attack or a stray bullet from a wandering enemy.

The graphics are pixelated, colorful, and amusing. With so much going on during the heat of battle, it's easy for your ship to get lost in the cacophony of blue and red lasers all over everything.  Your ship can easily blend into the pixel art background, and as you speed through the levels, you may not notice at first the tiny heart above an animals head which designates your mission target. This can get troublesome at later levels, but not enough to prevent having a blast as you replay the level again and again.

Dr. Spacezoo has a great variety and replay value, with three types of game styles to choose from: story, action, and boss mode. Story is a progression from one to best, upgrading your ship and weapons along the way as you find harder and harder zoos to liberate. Action mode gives you a nearly never ending variety of procedurally generated missions to choose from, and Boss mode lets you fight the bosses of the game in challenging levels.

In addition to the multiple types of gameplay, there is also a daily high score that factors in. Not only can you, the player, compete with others in order to get the highest score the game has ever seen, but you can compete in “daily high score” missions which, once done, will not be available until the next day. I thought this part of the game was very well done and creates tons of potential for replay value, in addition to fusing the single player experience with a greater online narrative.

Dr. Spacezoo is a challenging twitch based 2D shooter with amazing music, bright and flashy visuals, and enough replay value to entertain you for at least a year. If you love these kinds of games, you'll find a home for yourself in the amusing world of Dr. Spacezoo.

7

The Verdict

If you've ever wanted to run around the galaxy and destroy artificially intelligent space stations while rescuing helpless space animals, well, Dr. Spacezoo is your dream come true. You play as a tiny spaceship with infinite ammo as you fly to space zoos across the galaxy and free the animals from the A.I. systems which have gone haywire.

Shane Lynn

Shane's earliest memory of gaming was playing Contra on the original NES. Since then he has found a love for PC gaming, Pen and Paper Role playing, and Board games. His strongest passions are in the realms of fantasy and science fiction where he has developed countless worlds, stories, table top gaming systems, and an original board game. Outside of gaming, he'll be found dancing with crystals and talking with glowing nature spirits in his backyard.

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