Review | Protodroid DeLTA
Humble Games does what Capcomn't
Not only the indie scene has given us some of the most innovative games in recent memory, but their developers seem to also want to give us what big publishers no longer seem to find economically viable. A new Outrun? A new Banjo-Kazooie? A new MegaMan X? Who knows when they’ll officially arrive, but in the meantime, indies got us covered. Speaking of the latter, Protodroid DeLTA is a Mega Man X-inspired 3D action-platformer, putting a suspiciously familiar cannon armed humanoid droid in futuristic scenarios against hordes of robots. Can it live up to the lofty expectations? Let’s find out in our test made on Xbox Series X!
After the most basic and generic explanation that gives us the bare minimum lore as to why this hopeful futuristic Earth has various villains to beat down, each in their own stage, we already jump into action with a straight-forward tutorial giving us the basics. In generally linear 3D levels full of moving platforms, traps and enemies spawning in, the player has to jumps, airdashes, arm-cannon shots and melee attacks to progress. Melee is fairly effective but a lot of the enemies have very high damaging power when touched or when some of their attacks explode, making the infinitely recharging arm-cannon a better option throughout most fights for me. As the game progresses though, most enemies start having shields, which have to be taken down via either a charged shot or certain melee hits, forcing players’ hands a bit since the former only has limited use throughout a level.
Yet, combat really isn’t the game’s core – 3D platforming is. Most levels have a handful of enemies spawning in at the same time, with combat that hardly ever takes more than 30 seconds at a time, only for a lengthy platforming sequence to follow it. These feature rotating traps, moving platforms, disappearing or falling pieces of pavement and more, with stages becoming rather extreme rather quick. Unfortunately, the game’s controls and hit detection aren’t all that great, leading to multiple frustrating deaths. I’ve had multiple instances of enemies pushing me through a floor or the jump or dash buttons failing me at crucial times. Granted, these falls usually only set the player back to the last stable piece of ground, but with a health loss – get to 0 and it’s back to the last checkpoint. Though I did have an annoying instance in one of the later stages where falling into a pit somehow pushed me back 2 checkpoints to the start of the level.
Jump with me
Fortunately, the game is structured in a way that each and every level and checkpoint can be accessed again rather quickly. Before the endgame, Protodroid DeLTA presents 5 different scenarios, each with its charismatic stage boss to get through in whichever order we decide. Each stage has optional routes and collectibles, which come in handy for special upgrades that can be unlocked, such as aerial dashes, charged melee attacks and improved armcannons. It’s all optional, but they certainly make the game more varied and easier on the long run. As I was saying, each stage can even be abandoned mid-way, with the game handily saving each checkpoint (even of the optional dungeons found inside of them) for future access.
Each level has increasingly tough platforming sequences and enemy encounters, with then all of them culminating in a tough but generally fair boss fight. Yet the stages themselves feel like going on forever, with multiple teleport devices that seem like signaling the end of the level and, yet, only just opening up yet another segment of slightly frustrating platforming and more of the same enemies spawning in. I was really enjoying the opening hour or so, but eventually the game’s repetition catches up with it, with the gameplay unfortunately not polished or precise enough to truly allow for all this to shine. Mega Man X it ain’t.
A solid beginning
Audiovisually speaking, the game is decent enough. Bright, colourful, slightly cartoony futuristic scenarios, mixing in high-tech buildings and some green areas with flowers and trees alike. Energetic soundtracks give the action a nice beat, and the few anime-inspired cutscenes are pretty good – shame then that most interactions are done via the classic dialog boxes and with a pretty cheap voice acting. And while performance is pretty stable, the camera and movement do feel somewhat unresponsive and choppy, almost as if the framerate was lower than it really is. Perhaps some patches can help with that.
Despite a fairly negative-sounding review, Protodroid DeLTA is a fun game. It manages to capture most of the magic of action-platformers of the era, Mega Man X in particular but also the Sonic Adventure games to an extent, with fun, dynamic combat and tons of platforming and a bright, colourful look. Unfortunately, while the gameplay has its moments, it’s also not quite as precise and polished as such a game would require, and with how prevalent and difficult the platforming sequences become, this is certainly a big issue. Nostalgic gamers and people dying to play something resemblign a new 3D Mega Man are still bound to have a pretty fun time with Protodroid DeLTA, and here’s hoping that the title can be successful enough to warrant a sequel that fixes some of its shortcomings.
Xbox Series X
- Charming presentation
- Fast-paced combat when it all clicks
- Very replayable stages
- Predominant platforming with controls not precise enough
- Stages are a bit long and repetitive
- Doesn't try to bring anything new to the formula