Rockin’ Android’s latest doujin to PSN conversion is an interesting stray from the genre’s otherwise chaotic nature. Although players still face waves of adamant enemies in the 2D shooter, Qlione Evolve
introduces a new gameplay mechanic that requires players to learn the physics of the game. This game isn’t solely about maneuvering around your enemies and mashing the shoot button. This game is more about having a feel for the way your character plays and the way your enemies respond to your movements, making the experience unique and challenging.
The way your character moves, the way enemies move, and the way the environment changes based on the calamity of the situation deeply impact how you will play the game. When you create explosions, the universe loosens its netted facade and allows you to swim through it with more ease, as opposed to when the mesh is tightened upon recovery from said explosions. The trick to taking on your opponents is to set up traps for them. Enemy organisms are not particularly smart, but they are incessant and powerful. They’ll always be trailing after you like an annoying (and dangerous) tailgater, but you can use that to your advantage. Learning how to take advantage of these scenarios is the bulk of this game.
The character players will control in Qlione 2 starts off as a baby organism. Your attacks are typically divided between an explosion bomb and a vacuum bomb, which can be combined to create a “wave attack.” The vacuum bomb essentially attracts your enemies to it. The explosion bomb is fairly self explanatory, but it is worth noting that it is not an instantaneous explosion. There are a list of specialized moves that are available to you to help outsmart your enemies. Tinkering with the placement of your bombs, for instance, can create interesting effects such as compressed waves, serial bombs and compressed fusion adding new effects and (hopefully) more damage.
Although the ultimate goal is obviously to complete each level and defend against each boss, the more immediate goal is to collect the protein orbs that are discarded after killing enough enemy organisms. These “porbs” function as evolution points, and are critical in this game. By ingesting enough red or green porbs, your baby organism will begin to evolve along an evolutionary chain created by the developers. This not only gives you another “life up,” but it also forces the player to significantly change their play-style.
Some species higher up on this power chain are able to send bursts of waves at enemies to directly attack them rather than leaving a trail of timed mines. Depending on the color orb you decide to ingest, your baby organism will grow along a very different path with many different stems of the metaphorical tree branch to follow. Should you be experimenting with consumption patterns, there are over 20 species that you can gain access to, each with unique abilities and appearances. Each level, therefore, can result in an entirely different game simply because of the evolutionary path you happened to follow in that turn. This gameplay feature is a big (and advanced) step away from the original Qlione title. While the original Qlione’s intrigue lay only in its unique boss levels, you won’t have to wait for a similar lull in the monotony in Qlione Evolve given the constant changing of species you will undergo.
Although your enemies are typically geometric shapes that will attempt to collide with you to kill you, some are equipped with neon-colored lasers, and others have more rapid movements. Fortunately, Rockin’ Android has retained the unique boss levels. Bosses are wholly different than the enemy organisms you encounter in swarms. Their appearances mirror their movements, so each boss behaves incredibly different than the next. Attacking the bosses becomes even more entertaining while you shift quickly between species and attempt to adapt to each new form and its ability. Of course, if you can avoid death in each boss level, you won’t have to worry about dropping down in the evolutionary chain and having to climb it again. Qlione Evolve is definitely an advancement on Qlione 1 game mechanics. With evolutions and new species with new behaviors to play with, Rockin’ Android’s second Qlione holds a much more fun experience that breaks up the otherwise monotonous one.
Scoring in this game is heavily based on time, as well. This is something I’ve never liked in any game: being pressured for time. Not only does it take away from the experience for me personally, but it also feels like a cheap way of adding challenge or providing a basis for a leaderboard. Of course, you can still beat the level without any defined time constraint, but your score will be affected. If you care about leaderboards, you will have to be careful with how much time you spend on each level.
The music is downright awful. They consist of generic techno beats, but fortunately you can access your own custom soundtrack rather than just hit the mute button. However, the house music certainly matches the neon facade of the objects in the game, but neither are very pleasant. The neon design has a sort of brite-lite cuteness to it, but isn’t particularly aesthetically pleasing or “beautiful” as it is attempted to be marketed as. It’d be fitting as an arcade game in the middle of a loud and dark old school arcade, but it’s not something I want to be looking at or listening to for long while lounging by the television.