Velocity 2X is an exceptionally bold game. Bold in its design, bold in its aesthetic, and as bold as its fist-clenching protagonist grinning in defiance at her enemies.
This boldness is well deserved, and is part of the reason why Velocity 2X is one of the best games currently available on PlayStation 4. It’s a game unencumbered by clumsy mechanics or lackluster presentation, and one that has a very clear vision and executes on it almost seamlessly.
But what else would you expect from a game whose predecessor was all but written off as a small part of the now-defunct collection of tiny – and often insignificant – games in the Minis section of the PlayStation Store? From the very start, Velocity had a bold idea, and its ability to harness that idea is the reason it caught on in a major way.
Velocity 2X’s melding of multiple game types makes it difficult to describe. It borrows elements of platforming, bullet hell shooters, and even racing games to an extent. Its gameplay takes place in two different areas; inside space stations in fine-tuned 2D platforming levels, and in space, where one teleports across sections of a level and races to reach the end as fast as possible.
Velocity’s emphasis on speed and item collection gives it an incredibly exhilarating feel. It’s not overly punishing; there are no lives, and death does not result in one being transported all the way back to the start. Instead, its use of a multi-tiered grading scale recapping your success in collecting items and going as fast as possible at the end of a level causes one to punish themselves. Watching the pink meters reach a point just shy of perfection at the end of a level is enough to motivate one to jump back in and restart a level time after time, on a constant quest for improvement.
Fueling the obsession to achieve perfection, new levels are unlocked only after a set number of XP has been obtained from the player’s performance on previous levels. Do you find yourself just shy of level 35? The only way to access it will be to venture back and start improving the scores on past levels.
It sounds tedious, but Velocity’s fluidity and perfectly-tuned mechanics make it anything but. It wasn’t unusual for me to travel back and try to outdo my scores on previous levels merely for the fun of it. In addition to fun and frenetic levels, a generous use of bold color and an art style heavily comprised of thick lines and strong shapes give 2X a gorgeous look as pleasing to see as it is to play.
Its only awkward moments were those when the player exits the Quarp Jet and enters into a 2D platforming scape during a level. Both flying the ship and jumping inside space stations have a different set of controls, and the rushed nature of the levels can lead to a somewhat rocky start in the platforming sequences when the shoot button suddenly becomes a jump. The differences between the two are minor and don’t necessarily impact the game beyond slightly delaying a near-perfect run, but it’s a tad bit jarring.
Minor complaints aside, Velocity 2X is part of that rare sequel club reserved only for those who are not only able to incorporate the best elements of their predecessors, but refine them and take them a step further to create a fantastic experience overall. It’s difficult, but not egregiously so. It’s different, but not so different that it divorces itself from the ingenious ideas presented in the original. It’s bold, it’s brilliant, and it’s a must-play for PlayStation owners.