Spirits of Xanadu is an interesting take on a familiar genre.
Sci-fi horror has been around for a long time, with probably the most notable of all the sci-fi horror escapades being System Shock. The first I’d heard about Spirits of Xanadu, was that it was supposed to be a “spiritual successor” to the highly acclaimed title; I know what your thinking, the spot of spiritual successor to Looking Glass’ “game of all time” (according to some people, anyway) was claimed years ago by Bioshock. But hear me out on this one, because if anything is fit to be successor to that classic, it’s definitely The Spirits of Xanadu.
The story of Spirits of Xanadu is incredibly vague to begin with. It’s the futuristic 1980’s and you’ve been sent out into deep space to a ship by the name of Xanadu, to discover what happened to the crew. The entire plot has an incredible Lovecraftian twist to it as well (which I adore, because Lovecraft yay!). To be slightly obvious here, the ship reached deep space and the crew feel in some deep… Xanadoodoo (cue screaming laughter).
Gameplay is hard, until you get the hang of it. The first weapon you acquire is a pistol at the immediate beginning and it doesn’t seem to help a lot, until you realize the other hidden acquirable weapons are pretty useless. There are four types of enemies in the game, Daleks (not really, but they do look like Daleks), suicidal exercise bots, shielded turrets, and flying taser drones. I have to really applaud them with the enemy design, because every time I saw one I felt completely helpless; especially with the suicide bots.
Hearing the clank of footsteps sent me into a mild panic attack, and even when I knew they were there, the monotonous way they say ‘would you like to play kickball’ caused a mild cardiac infarction (read: heart attack), and I really wish I could say I was kidding.
There are a bunch of interesting (?) achievements you can earn by doing some weird stuff too, such as eating all of the donuts on the spaceship, killing yourself by smoking too many cigarettes, and leaving every toilet seat on the ship up. I’d kind of like to say I could say I’m joking, but honestly- I’m glad I’m not.
If you’re reading this review, you’ve probably already seen some screenshots of the game somewhere, and let me tell you, I know it looks awful. But I grew really fond of it after a while, and I could do with graphics similar to this and Heavy Bullets (great acid tri- I mean game, if you haven’t played it yet!). Something about the simplicity causes my imagination into over-time, and while technically the graphics look like something out of a custom Roblox map, they’re almost awesome.
I won’t go into details with the end because I don’t want to spoil it… but know it’s fantastic. I didn’t see it coming and I really want to freak out about it but I won’t. Just know it caused me to lose it almost as much as the ending of The Last of Us.
Spirits of Xanadu was an amazing adventure I never expected to see and never knew I needed. If you’re a System Shock fan, a Lovecraft fan, or just appreciate some good storytelling in games, give it a shot. The game is incredibly short, about an hour and a half if you take your time, though the achievements I mentioned earlier are a good reason to keep coming back.
To sum it all up, the crew of the Xanadu, in their deep Xanadoodoo, caused me to Xanawoohoo even though the ending made me Xanaboohoo.