The game's story plays out in set levels each with their own goal. An "Oracle" will act as your guide and keep you to task and you'll meet some silly characters along the way - all are done with eccentric voice overs that are fairly entertaining. At times, I felt like I was in some offshoot of the world created by Valve for Portal. The music in Retrovirus is also very fitting, though, it could use a little more variety.
The entire campaign can be played cooperatively with another player online. It's very free form, players can pick any level to start from and jump in from the beginning. Completing levels in co-op unlock them in your single player game, and any unlocks you acquire for your ship stick with your profile as well.
Co-Op doesn't add a whole lot to the gameplay, though players can combine different scan and gun combinations to help defeat enemies. For instance one player could set up a gravity well on an environmental hazard while the other could use the push scan ability to send enemies flying into it. The challenge definitely seemed to go up in co-op as well, with more enemies to tackle. There's no revive mechanic, instead it uses a Halo style spawn system, respawning you to your partner as soon as they are out of combat.
The big thing that co-op can help with is navigating. The world of Retrovirus has a very old school feel to it - you'll be finding keys to unlock doors, traveling back and forth through levels to areas that were previously unaccessible. It reminds me of DOOM or Duke Nukem 3D - where keycards and trying to find the next door were part of the experience - and with the six degrees of freedom, it's part of the challenge of the game. Simply getting from A to B is never a straight line like it is in most modern shooters. Having a co-op partner to help find the next path or objective was a huge help - of course - when your partner simply says "I'm over here" - it's a bit tougher to know where to look in space.
So while part of the challenge is trying to find where to go, and co-op helps, in single player many times I found myself completely lost. There is a waypoint system in the game, but it seems to be hit or miss on if it actually works. We hit a few minor glitches beside this, which I'm sure will be patched in due time, but nothing that ruined the experience or caused lost progress.
There hasn't been a ton of coverage of Retrovirus, and after playing it, I'm really surprised the developer failed to reach their Kickstarter goals. Overall I was pleasantly surprised by with the game and how it played on nostalgia and geeky PC terminology. I forgot how much I really missed this style of game and the overall look and feel really brought me into the game's world. There's a solid variety of enemies to keep you on your toes, and while the game isn't difficult, it's just challenging enough to be fun. Retrovirus is a game I think that will surprise a lot of people.
Co-Optimus was supplied a build of Retrovirus for review purposes from the developer.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with a friend to complete the entire campaign cooperatively or take on co-op challenge levels.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.