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Nodeshifter iOS Preview

We got our hands on an early access copy of Nodeshifter, a rogue-lite game where you have to stay alive against a non-stop barrage of bad guys trying to ruin your day. You have to protect your state-of-the-art combat vehicle, the Nodeshifter. Your Nodeshifter comes equipped with some high tech weaponry to destroy anything in your path. The main mechanic for dealing with enemies is by expanding and shrinking the orbit around you. Let’s take you through what Nodeshifter offers.

Nodeshifter Chaos
Nodeshifter gets chaotic!

What does Nodeshifter have to offer?

Tutorial

The tutorial is well designed and takes you through everything you need to know about Nodeshifter without boring you to death. We always appreciate a well-executed tutorial that gets to the point and transitions to your first real session in no time. We would advise you to do the tutorial, to understand the mechanics of the game, and to scoop up some of the limited lore for Nodeshifter.

Nodeshifter Tutorial
Jump in and learn more about Nodeshifter

Visuals and UI

The game sports a great retro 80s cyberspace visual style which makes you feel you are in a mainframe from the Tron universe. We tested Nodeshifter on an iPhone 11 Pro and it ran smoothly with no performance issues or heating the device because of bad code.

Nodeshifter’s UI feels perfect on the phone. The buttons are just the right size so you don’t struggle or accidentally tap the wrong one due to sizing issues.

Controls

Mobile games should take into account that players already have limited screen space to work with, so the controls have to be simple and intuitive. The developer of Nodeshifter seems to understand this concept because the controls were incredibly easy to understand and in no time we were 100% comfortable with the game’s mechanics.

Enemy types

We loved the variety of enemy types in Nodeshifter. Although every unit has a basic look, they were unique enough to quickly learn their differences. 

Basic Unit

These basic units are what you typically find at the start of most games. They do not really pose any threat. In early levels they are used to introduce the player to the controls, and in later levels they are added to increase the chaos.

Shield units

We love the uniqueness of this unit. This little guy has a shield either facing left or right, forcing you to change the direction of your orbit to take them down! You can change the direction of orbit by tapping on the screen.

Stronger units

Nothing special here. It is a basic unit with double the health points. You will have to hit these units twice to take them down. Try to take them down before they get too close to your Nodeshifter.

Invisible units

The invisible units were some of the more tricky ones we faced. They turn invisible for a moment, causing you to miss the shot. This mechanic forces you to calculate the timing of when they will go invisible so you can hit them as soon as they become visible again.

Slowing units

The slowing units added a great sense of franticness to the later stages of the game. These slow units have a little orbit around them, and as soon as your orbit passes through theirs, you get slowed a great deal. You need to hit their core to destroy them, making these enemies a top priority target.

Upgrades

Because we received an early access version of the game, we got to pick any upgrade when we had the choice. When the full game releases, you need to collect SAALT, the currency in Nodeshifter, to purchase upgrades. Every time we got to choose an upgrade it was a satisfying experience, knowing we just received more firepower against our foes! The upgrades felt appropriately powerful, from doing double damage while taking double damage to a bigger orbit radius, we enjoyed every upgrade.

Nodeshifter Upgrades
Of course we chose Glass Cannon

What we would have loved to see

Level variety

Although there are lots of different enemies and upgrades, the experience became stale fairly quickly. No level variety can create the illusion of limited progress, even if only the color of the enemies change after a couple of levels it would have kept things fresh. 

Difficulty curve

We came pretty far in the endless mode. We cannot say that it was entirely because of our skills but the power of some upgrades. While you need to become more powerful from the upgrades, it should never make you an unstoppable galaxy destroying machine where no enemy has a chance to penetrate your defenses. With that said, the upgrades were free with the preview version of the game we played. We are sure once the SAALT currency comes into play this won’t be an issue.

Boss levels

Having boss levels gives a greater sense of reward or something to work towards. If the boss is challenging enough, it creates another layer of decision making for the player. That could nudge you to more carefully choose your upgrades because you know the upcoming boss is a challenge. 

Final thoughts

We enjoyed Nodeshifter on iOS and we are curious to see what the final version of the game offers. It is certainly not a game that will keep you engaged for hours on end, but it sure does the trick when you have a couple of minutes to kill. And what better way to kill time than with an amazing synth wave soundtrack, amazing art and orbital destruction!