Project Sanctuary Review


Thus far Project Sanctuary has been inexplicably overlooked by the dual-stick shoot ’em up junkies who normally lap this this type of thing up. I say inexplicably because from the off Salient Holding‘s action packed App Store debut delivers the sort of feature rich, story driven, RPG riffing, multiplayer enabled experience it took fan-favorites such as Minigore umpteen updates and a pseudo spin-off (Guerrilla Bob) to achieve and Alive 4-ever a sequel to fine-tune.

While P. Sanctuary is nowhere near as good as those games, it has a decent stab at replicating the fast and furious top-down thrills that defined them. A seen-it-all-before, us versus them storyline (us being a crack team of tooled up mercenaries, them a slobbering horde of HR Giger inspired space invaders hell bent on world domination) provides a passable excuse for the carnage that ensues. It is, of course, utter drivel, the dialogue is unintentionally rib-ticklingly funny in parts, and the human characters walking cliches cut from the flimsiest of cardboard. But hey, at least there’s not a motherflippin’ zombie in sight. Who’s with me?

Once you’ve selected your muscle-bound grunt or scantily clad, hubba-hubba heroine, each endowed with their own set of upgradeable skills, and swiped through a few pages of scene-setting comic book, it’s off to the Middle East for the first of many close encounters with extra-terrestrial baddies, the Trinigon Alliance.

On arrival, you’re greeted by a small army of spear carrying monsters (think Xenomorphs mated with Predators) who don’t seem best pleased to see you. As far as first levels go, it’s pretty damn good; the action is slick and comes thick and fast, while thankfully you’re still given adequate breathing space to get to grips with the basics of gameplay. I won’t bore you with a description of how the controls work – we’ve all sampled a dual-stick shooter at this stage right?, and P. Sanctuary’s function identically to any other.

Likewise, the core gameplay keeps to familiar territory, boiling down to blasting aliens to bloody chunks and keeping a watchful eye on your health bar. There’s also plenty of extra ammo crates and medi-packs strewn around the initial few environments should you need them. What is markedly different about P. Sanctuary is that in each stage there are two multiple challenges in addition to the primary goal. Factor in that you can also play through the game with multiple protagonists (5 in total), and there’s potential for a ton of replayability here.

Although once might be more than enough for most. While for the best part P. Sanctuary looks good and plays well, it’s not without its problems. First and foremost among them is the fact that the majority of enemies have the exact same attack patterns and special abilities as those seen in Alive 4-ever (for example tentacle alien = tentacle zombie and so forth).

Piss poor sound effects also serve to cheapen the overall experience and strip the otherwise intense action of that vital visceral oomph. I mean it’s hard to get into the game when no matter how much cash you drop on upgrading your arsenal, all your humongous guns still sound and feel more like pea-shooters.

Once you’ve exhausted the game’s main story, or indeed stories, there’s also a number of bonus modes to try, including 4-player co-op (kudos to Salient for that!) and the usual selection of survival stages. Yet for all its stylish presentation and decent showing of game modes, P. Sanctuary is ultimately a middle of the road dual-stick shooter. In short, the kind of title that if iPhone was a traditional console and its games came in physical form, I’d wholeheartedly recommend as a rental.

iFanzine Verdict: While it wont win any awards for originality, this sci-fi themed Alive 4-ever-alike deserves to be recognized for giving gamers what they (profess to) want – a dual-stick shooter that boasts a decent single player campaign with well implemented RPG elements, a nice selection of survival arenas, and four way multiplayer. Flawed but fun.

[xrr rating=3/5]

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