Available Now on: PS4, Switch, Xbox One – Version Played: Xbox One
Though Sisters Royale released earlier this year on PS4 and Switch, the Xbox One version has only just gone on sale – and it’s the port for Microsoft’s console that I’ve been able to play.
If you went into Sisters Royale completely blind, it’d probably be a huge surprise that it’s a bullet hell shoot ’em up. The artwork, plot and even the opening story scenes all give the impression that the game is likely to be an animé-inspired visual novel, rather than the frantic, high score chasing experience that it actually turns out to be.
The story – as thin a premise as it is – concerns five sisters who are all fighting for the attention of a single, possibly not-that-bothered-to-mingle angel named Yashin. The rather poorly translated and typo-ridden intro and dialogue also make reference to an evil character named Seytan (no one could accuse Sisters Royale of subtlety), who – for most of the game – is conspicuous by his absence.
You take control of one of the sisters, each of which has their own power ups and shooting style, and will take down each of your siblings in turn before meeting Yashin. There are some neat mechanics, including a feature known as the ‘Tension Bonus System’ – which apparently means that the score and coins you can earn multiplies based on your distance from enemies and their attacks.
In practice though, this is somewhat invisible, but this is the least of the issues with the game. Though the visuals are suitably vibrant and colourful, with some excellent (albeit somewhat smutty in places, not helped by the dialogue) art, with the coins flying towards you at the same time as the many deadly projectiles in play it can feel extremely overwhelming. There’s also the fact that losing a life – or even a whole credit – just puts you back exactly where you were when you died, which removes an awful lot of the tension and skill from the game. This also causes issues with an arbitrary 90 second time limit that’s in place for bosses; if you die, the timer just resets to 90 seconds and there’ll be no punishment except for the loss of coins and score.
There’s little variety in feel between stages, but they don’t outstay their welcome – even when you are finding it somewhat challenging, due to the way that you can simply restart your attempt from the exact spot you die in (with enemies, including bosses, not replenishing their energy when you do so), it won’t take long to work your way through each of the stages. Even if you do so with each character on offer (and the extra that’s available as DLC), you won’t be playing for more than a few hours – and that might even include doing the same thing on the three different difficulty levels too. It’s an extremely short game – and it’s hard to shake the feeling that you may have seen most of what it has to offer even after just half an hour.
That is, unless the lure of the high score is your thing. Sisters Royale is likely going to appeal to old school shoot ’em up fans the most, as it’s most definitely quite a challenge to maintain an unbroken run – and therefore a high score – in each stage. The brief stages and bullet hell boss battles lend themselves to memorisation and practice, though players less enamoured with the idea of playing through the game multiple times are likely to struggle to find anything here to like. So if the idea of chasing high scores through a short bullet hell shooter appeals, check out Sisters Royale; if that’s not something that floats your boat, I wouldn’t recommend picking up this particular title.
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