Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X
January 26, 2022
Jumping, shooting, and lemons aplenty… if such words bring fond memories welling in for you, then I have quite the game to discuss today. Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2 has recently launched into the world with guns blazing and a laser chainsaw revving alongside, because Lord knows we can never have enough of those in games.
Luminous Avenger iX 2 follows on from the alternate timeline of Azure Striker Gunvolt and sees our broody hero Copen pulled into another world alongside his allies Lola and Kohaku. With a new dimension comes new gameplay, as Copen’s entire kit has been overhauled to take on the new threats that await him within… the tower!
As you can see from the trailer above, you can’t quite approach this game the way you did its predecessor, and while this may be a contentious move, I actually came to enjoy it. Luminous Avenger iX 2 is a 2D action platformer. The game offers a good amount of freedom in the air, and tagging enemies so you can lay into them with a volley of bullets never gets old. The biggest change is on the ground with the aforementioned chainsaw, which grows with each attack and may remind Mega Man X fans of a certain red hero. It’s honestly a very fun dynamic, where you have this balance of classic Copen and new Copen, managing to help this sequel feel fresh without abandoning what made it possible in the first place.
The game also has EX weapons, which all do a great job of complimenting the existing gameplay in their own way. Each weapon you collect is both unique and very useful, be it for destroying certain annoying enemies or collecting hard-to-reach items. Every one you collect really does feel like it was worth the effort, and learning how to best utilise them and where can really add to the experience.
Now it really has to be said, the presentation for Luminous Avenger iX 2 is stellar. Anyone who’s familiar with developer Inti Creates will know that they’ve had plenty of time to perfect their retro aesthetic, and their expertise is on full display here, with the tower giving the artists a chance to show off a wide variety of locales that each shine in their own ways.
You’ll be running and gunning through a beautiful jungle, a harsh volcano, and a blizzard-ridden laboratory just to name a few, and each is drawn wonderfully, complimented by some fantastic music to get you in the mood to kick some metallic rear-end. Then of course you have the anthems, which basically amount to having your own theme music power up as you blaze through enemies like a Triple-A developer blazes through bad workplace decisions. It’s an awesome feeling and an easy recommendation for headphone users especially.
Really, as someone who grew up on Mega Man X and other such action platformers, I would love to just continually sing this game’s praises.
It does so much right, paying tribute to what came before with nice little references to classic games most people wouldn’t even notice, and you can tell a lot of work went into ensuring that the art direction, music, and gameplay all meshes together perfectly. Aside from the visuals getting somewhat hectic during some of the boss fights, I truly can’t fault the majority of this game. And yet…
“A lot of work went into ensuring that the art direction, music, and gameplay all meshes together perfectly”
There are two decisions made with the game that I feel hinder the game fundamentally, and while one can be excused as a creative decision, the other is simply insulting.
Within each of the game’s main levels are some collectible emblems, four in total. These aren’t too hard to find, and encourage you to experiment with your EX weapons more to uncover hidden areas and blocks. So far so good.
Now this is entering semi-spoiler territory, so I’ll keep this vague, but essentially, upon having all of these emblems, you can unlock a special path which unlocks a Hard Mode. That would be perfectly fine on it’s own, extra challenge and replay value are welcome in a game like this, but the problem is this: the true ending of the game can only be obtained in this mode. And this mode is ridiculous.
You can no longer level up or buy upgrades in Hard Mode, which would be tolerable, but what becomes outright frustrating is that you now have limited lives and near non-existent invulnerability frames. What was a fun and balanced experience just becomes an exercise in tedium as the smallest mistake ends up costing you huge chunks of your life bar as you try to slowly chip away at bosses that treat your bullets like a fly on a hot day.
By the time I beat the intro boss, which took much longer than it had any right to, I was just… done. If you end up invested in the story like I did, it becomes a really disappointing creative decision to lock the true ending behind this super challenging mode, and one that I hope sees some changes in the future.
The second issue in Luminous Avenger iX 2 is that the DLC feels ungenerous. For the price of some indie games you’re able to fight a crossover boss from COGEN: Sword of Rewind, which when beaten also grants a powerup to one of your EX weapons. The DLC actually costs more than one of Inti Creates’ own titles.
There are more pieces of DLC on the way too, with the next DLC boss set to grant an air dashing move, something players may have missed from the first game. Let’s not ask players to pay for a fun traversal mechanic that should be part of the base experience.
Luminous Avenger iX 2 is a great game, I loved my time with it, but these bizarre decisions just hold it back from being better than what it is.
- Fast and fun gameplay
- Lovely music and visuals
- An engaging story that's well acted
- Hard Mode overdoes it and becomes mandatory plot-wise
- DLC is over-priced and underwhelming
Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2 does so much right. It’s gorgeous, it’s fun, and it sounds awesome. It has a lot to offer for fans of classic 2D action platformers with engagement to be found in both its story and gameplay. Not without its faults, Luminous Avenger iX 2 hides its true ending behind an overly punishing hard mode and hides fun mechanics behind a DLC paywall which leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Though with that said, the game still manages to be a funhouse of bullets and chainsaws.