released on Sep 28, 2018

ZeroRanger is a vertically scrolling 2D shoot'em up with heavy emphasis on shooting, dodging and... mystery?

A menacing alien threat, GREEN ORANGE, has begun its invasion. Only two secondary fighters remain against complete annihilation.

Blast your way through enemy forces in order to unleash your fighter's latent potential, unlocking new weapons and abilities.

But as you grow stronger, so does your understanding of the true nature of your adversary...

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Something I've been having a lot of trouble with while writing reviews in this website is doing so for games I love or really respect, partly because I feel like I wouldn't be doing them any justice whatsoever, or simply due to not being able to convey my feelings and experience properly (and honestly, there are reviews out there that are so good that it just feels like anything I'd write down would be inferior in every capacity).
However, this game, which also happened to be the 200th game on my profile, motivated me enough to at least give it a go.
"Even the sweetest treats get bitter with each bite."
I first stumbled upon this game when buying the Ukraine Bundle, and a friend telling me the game is amazing and "the Undertale of shmups" made me give it a go...
...and I ended up liking it so much I bought it on Steam not long after, if that's any indicative of how much I enjoyed it.
There are many things I could say about this game, but first things first, this game is a blast. It would be unfair to say other shmups aren't (i.e. CAVE games are amazing), but this game in particular shows it's been carefully thought of for years, and the sheer passion of the devs bleeds out of the game uncontrollably.
The controls feel snappy, it never felt unfair to me, the music is amazing, and so are the two-palette graphics. On top of that, it's really accessible to people who haven't played shmups before with its somewhat lenient continues/lives system.
...but most of this can be said for other shmups. What makes ZeroRanger stand out?
"You've entered a vicious cycle of life and death."
For starters, the game won't be a cakewalk. As is a staple of the genre, you will die. A lot. But your determination shall not waver, and even the game helps in this endeavour by progressively making it smoother with more continues the longer you play. The beautiful landscapes and scenarios this game presents while you shoot down Green Orange's forces will feel nowhere as unique and vibrant on your subsequent runs, but even so, you might feel compelled to keep pushing through despite the several adversities on the way (trust me, there are many).
"As you cling on to this cycle, your desires poison your mind"
With the actual progression system as your true companion in this journey, you will slowly gain the power to get through what this game has to offer, and even despite the aforementioned adversities, your rewards for your struggles will be there in the form of your runs lasting longer, and getting deeper and deeper into this everlasting cycle.
But it has an end to be put to. And the game seems so heavily insistent on the idea of reaching enlightenment. Maybe that's what's waiting for you at the finish line?
You may ask what that is, but I'm not one to say or decide. You can play this game and reach your so desired response, or lack thereof, but I'll keep this as vague as I possibly can.
"Ignorance. Attachment. Aversion."
The story and symbolisms that this game carries forward are top-notch, despite most of the storytelling being either very vague or just implicit. I will not talk about this much as I want to keep this spoiler-free, but when you reach the ending, the experience just clicks together, and makes the journey and the countless hindrances so much more satisfying in hindsight.
If whenever you finish the game you're confused, which you might as well be, there's a lot of discussion about this game and its story/topics online that may help on that front.
At this point in time, which is only a few days after having finished the game, I still don't know if I get what it tries to say in its entirety, but what I can grasp makes it a simple, yet meaningful story.
"Feeding these unwholesome thoughts will only lead to more suffering."
This game is probably one of the best experiences that are awaiting you in this entire genre. Maybe the game might not seem appealing to you, and that's fine, but if there's even one shred of doubt or interest, I strongly recommend giving it a fair shake before giving up on it. The game is a piece of art, but it's hard, and it will do what it possibly can to remind you of that fact of all times, so you know what you'd be getting yourself into.
Perhaps when you finish it you won't think the same way I do, or you may just think it's good but nothing amazing, but you never know, so give it a chance, I don't think you'll regret it.
Shall you get to dedicate some of your time to this game, remember these words:
Do not give in to Despair.
May you attain Enlightenment.
And if you do,
I hope you can carry this Power with you.

This review contains spoilers

Whether you succeed or not, now depends solely on your resolve.
I’m going to be blunt and say that the ending salvaged my opinion. The preface wasn’t bad, but it left much to be desired. The levels and bosses ranged wildly in quality, the 2nd loop was particularly lame with the reused levels, and the game’s insistence on “never giving up” seemed at odds with its overall leniency. The game would tell me to “attain enlightenment,” but what does Enlightenment look like?
The hallmark of ZeroRanger is how you’re told to work smarter, not harder. It places you in front of a wall and, instead of asking you to bash your head into it, it gives you a charge shot, a shotgun, and a mech suit. These mechanics, along with the scoring system, turn ZeroRanger from a reactive shooter into a proactive one. The player is encouraged to maintain aggression throughout the entire game, using their ever-expanding move-set to take out enemies as efficiently as possible. The many peaks of the game are when you are untouchable. Hundreds of enemies will engage you only to be struck down in an instant. A mini boss will show up only to be defeated in seconds. Learning a level and waltzing your way through it without dying is a fantastic feeling, but it's not Enlightenment.
You beat the final boss and learn that everything you have done was for naught. The remaining enemy forces destroyed the rest of the population and you’re the only one left. To truly beat the game, you must travel back in time to defeat one last boss. The twist is that you must sacrifice your save file to attempt it, meaning that if you fail, you must replay the entire game.
Ironically, this was when the game hooked me as I finally was motivated to get good. I thought that mastering the mechanics was the key to beating the game, but I was wrong. I kept grinding the final level, thinking that I could eventually beat the final boss with enough continues to beat the game. That never happened, during one attempt I saw I had enough continues to be comfortable, said “fuck it, we ball” and beat the game. It wasn’t my skill, my knowledge of the mechanics, or my reaction time, it was pure determination.
That’s what Enlightenment is. It’s not the 1cc, it’s not the no-hit run, it’s not even beating the game. It’s having the courage to face a difficult situation with the confidence to overcome.
And may you attain it.

revivendo o terceiro impacto infinitamente até perfurar o ciclo de vida e morte com sua broca

The friction between space and hazards, action and hesitation, hope and despair, repetition and conclusion, ludo and life. To play is to feel God slipping away from your moving fingers, your grasp letting go of That which cannot be defined by words, to learn the violent dance that is performed by patience and desperation. Patterns learned not through analysis but through primal intuition; pumping blood racing not through veins but through the notes of blazing music; forget about solutions or results, it's about the Soul.
The destruction of the ship that is you, the revival through a larger-than-life sacrifice that rips the walls of space and time, the search for divinity proving useless in the face of ever-growing numbers and qualifications. The battered ship is no longer a vehicle for calamity and death, but an embryo for the spirit that allows humans to find a way out no matter how tight the space might seem, to face Despair and Erasure face-to-face, with everything at stake every day. The cycle of routine and failure mirrors that of our games and stories - the screen no longer scrolls itself for you, everything depends on your resolve to move up. To press on. To lose everything and still come back.
I have lost everything, more than once. But I will still come back.
edit: I won.

I'm not exactly a shmup guy, but this was pretty great, and I could reach the end so I guess they did a good job into making it pretty accessible. The music is super hype.