Xeyyex (Review) – Good with Room for Improvement

Y’all remember Suezo from Tecmo Koei’s Monster Rancher?

Disclaimer: This game’s developer/publisher, the indie studio Ferulox Studios, reached out to me and asked if I was willing to review their title.

Xeyyex is the debut production of a small Indian developer, Ferulox Studios, and made with the Game Maker Studio engine. Though its screenshots are highly reminiscent of Pac-Man (1980) it actually is a shooter wherein players take on the roll of a round, one-eyed, orange monster that blasts laser beams at enemies. It’s a humble video game, but those who have watched my stream will note that I find it highly amicable. That said, there’s some good and some bad stuff I have to say about the project. I would like to start with the elements I didn’t like, so that I can end on a high note.

1.0 UI Blues:

Back to top

In typical retro fashion, without any preparation (unless one reads the brief manual on the start menu), Xeyyex throws players into the adventure. And that’s where the big issue with the game makes itself known. The top portion of the screen is where one will find the User Interface (UI) which quite frankly is a complete mess. (The game is enjoyable, the UI is convoluted.) The game requires players to keep track of a number of variables, though the way one is being told about them makes hardly any sense.

003
The longer the round lasts, the more enemies appear on screen

Xeyyex has a finite amount of ammo that can be replenished by collecting orange-blue boxes. How many shots one has can be seen under a red “F” at the top right of the screen. Directly left of it, audiences will also find a green “T,” below which they will see how much time they have left. To replenish the timer, they will then have to find some analog alarm clocks strewn about in the arena. If that wasn’t enough, players also have to pay attention to their lives meter. The protagonist dies in one hit, but the little number underneath the ammo counter shows how many lives are left. To get more of those, one will have to collect points, with every 5000 points rewarding them with one additional live. The point counter itself, however, is not next to the life indicator, but to the left of the clock. On top of that, there is also a counter for the bombs, one’s consumable, secondary weapon, which I’m not going to go into, since it would require an additional paragraph, as well as an “X” counter, which needs to be filled to progress.

Note: Since Xeyyex and Detective Case and Clown Bot in: Murder in Hotel Lisbon share the same game engine, Game Maker Studio, neither of them allow Steam users to employ the F12-screen cap functionality of the overlay. Though I believe that this can be fixed, it was in Detective Case and Clown Bot in: The Express Killer after all.

002
Every now and then there will be bonus stages, like this one

It’s apparent that with so many metrics audiences have to keep track off, that the rules of the game seem obviously confusing, though in action, they amount to kill bad guys, don’t run out of ammo. Since it’s fast paced, it’s also a lot of fun. That said, the User Interface design is a tricky undertaking. To elucidate, in 2013, Ronnie Edwards made a video about the evolution of Street Fighter’s interface1 (1987 ongoing) where he quite poignantly explained that the aim of a UI is to convey information within the shortest time frame possible and with the least amount of eye movement required on the player’s part. In most arcade style games, the UI also hints at the objective, which in fighting games would be to fully change the health bar color of the other player’s characters by punching their protagonist repeatedly. But in Xeyyex things are all over the place and just by looking at the interface, newcomers would neither be able to tell the meaning of all those numbers at the top of the screen nor what the aim of the game is. What exacerbates things further is that I was also unaware that even in single player, player 2’s UI is also on-screen without any indication of that being the case, because both players’ interfaces effortlessly flow into each other. What’s more, player 1’s stats are on the right, instead of on the left where they would usually be found.

 

1.1 A Potential Fix:

Back to top

001
Two players can enjoy the adventure at the same time

All of this is a bit of a dampener, but not a deal breaker and can easily be fixed. (Not to mention that the first Street Fighter game had one mess of a UI as well.) To set both player UI’s apart, it might have been good for the words “Player 1” and “Player 2” to be written on top of their respective UI, like in older Tekken (1995 ongoing) or Street Fighter type of games. It would also have made sense to make each player’s interface smaller and surround them with a respective box or frame to visually separate them instead of having one seamlessly go over into the other. What’s more, the icons should have been more intuitive. For example, in The Legend of Zelda (1986 ongoing) franchise, the health meter is represented by hearts and to replenish it, players collect hearts. It’s easy to see the connection between those two elements without anyone having to explain it. In other words, since there is a timer in Xeyyex, instead of it being represented by the letter “T,” it should have been the same clock icon players pick up and it should have been placed at the top center of the screen. Several of the number based stats could have also been replaced by bars, like the “X” to progress, for example, since those are more intuitive.

2.0 Performance and whatnot:

Back to top

All that said, I have to reiterate that the gameplay itself is good, fast paced, and wholly enjoyable. This is not a bad game. One can also play with both a keyboard as well as gamepads and the framerate stays at a comfortable 60 fps on my 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium PC with an MAD FX Quad-Core CPU, 8192 MB RAM, DirectX 11, and an Nvidia GeForce GT 710 graphics card. (This is the first review with my new specs, wooh!) The enemies have some variety to them, though all of it is self-explanatory, and whenever I died it felt more like it was my fault rather than the game’s. The sound design as well is really great and the only complaint I have is that Ferulox Studios studios need to work a bit on their color coordination. The first bonus stage, for example, has a really painful to look at green tone that made me want to turn away.

3.0 Conclusion:

Back to top

There you have it, folks. If you’ve watched my streams, you probably noticed that I have a lot more to say about the game, but decided to cut it short, since discussing the UI – even after extensive trimming – takes up way more space than I had wanted it to. Suffice it to say, if you like retro arcade games, like Q*bert: Rebooted, which I have also reviewed, then you will probably like Xeyyex as well. Plus, you’d be supporting aspiring developers and lending a hand to new talent is always a good cause.

Xeyyex is available on Steam right now as a digital download for U.S. $ 3.99 and your regional counterparts.

Xeyyex gets a 7 Suezo out of 10 Fantasy Golf Pangya Courses

References:

Back to top

  1. The Game Theorists, Evolution of Street Fighter’s Interface: DNSQ, YouTube, Alphabet Inc., posted 2013, February, 09, accessed 2019, November, 20, retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cchlIyO_IU

Retro is nice

Back to top

Thank you for reading my article. If you like, please do feel free to leave a comment. There’s no need to register or login. Also, all screenshots and photos shown here were taken by me during my playthrough and later on edited to fit the blog. The title card too was drawn by me. You can also follow my reviews on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/curator/8839524-Gaos-Corner/ Have a nice day.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s