Shape Shooter

Right from the start of its Adventure mode, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions doesn’t pull punches. The high scores required to unlock a new boss battle demand skillful runs through its minimalist maps, where the classic twin-stick shooter action wraps around the surface of giant three-dimensional shapes. That’s a good thing, especially when it’s so much fun for anyone to pick up and play. It’s disappointing that Dimensions doesn’t offer a ton of variety with its new map designs, but its tried-and-tested gameplay remains a strong score-based affair and a love letter to the golden era of arcade games.

Enemies come in all shapes and sizes in Geometry Wars games, and each one has a distinct personality. Blue diamonds slowly drift toward you while purple pinwheels float off into empty space without a care in the world. A school of green cubes never felt quite this menacing in a game before, but the way they bob and weave around bullets still gives me nightmares. This variety of opposition sets up tense moments that make Dimensions a fast-paced and challenging game to play solo or in co-op.

The different enemies are easy enough to discern in the early, low-activity phase of a run, but tracking these colorful foes in the middle of shootouts is very challenging when dozens of them flood the screen at once. Boss battles add a bigger, more intelligent target to the chase down. Each one has a unique bag of tricks to both fool and evade you, like having you chase an exposed weak spot while the the boss’ core spawns more enemies on the other side of the map. Winning these battles is a fun exclamation point for a campaign that leans on repetition.

However, a majority of the challenges are focused around simply racking up high scores. That’s not terribly damning, because chaining together enemy kills to build up a combo multipliers is simple enough, and it fits the arcade nostalgia this series is known for. The inclusion of classic modes like Deadline, King, Evolved, Pacifism, and Waves provides a great reason to revisit Geometry Wars on new-gen platforms. However, after a while, the focus on pure score challenges starts to wear itself thin. I can perpetually chase friends’ scores on the leaderboard, but it’s a bit of a one-trick pony.

The lack of game type variety hurts most in Adventure mode, where the early portions are poorly paced and repetitive. Many missions follow too-similar setups, either requiring a high score, a strict time limit, or a limited number of lives. More interesting modes like Pacifism (where you have to survive without shooting a single enemy) or King Classic (where you can only fire a weapon inside protected zones that quickly disappear) do appear eventually, but it takes a bit too long.

New 3D stages in which you fight on a rotating shape help make Dimensions feel distinct from its predecessors. Small touches like subtly vibrating textures hint an enemy is coming over the horizon of a map, but it does introduce a problem: it’s incredibly hard to see them in a heated shootout. Turning blind corners can lead to instant and unfair-feeling deaths if you’re not constantly shooting straight ahead.

An unlockable selection of A.I.-driven drones gives you a wingman to deal with some of this problem. These upgradable co-pilots can fire in the same direction as you or charge off on its own to grab multipliers. They come in handy, but in crazy-colorful shootouts, it can be difficult to discern friend from foe. Though it took some time to adjust for that, these friendly bots frequently saved my skin and helped me best some mighty high scores. And, when death cuts a run short, the ability to press a single button to quickly jump back into action is handy and fuels the feeling of going for “just one more game.”

Release Date:
  • 07 June 2023
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