Publisher: HypeTrain Digital
Reviewed on: PC
Barrier X is twitchy arcade madness in its purest form. Fast-paced and panic inducing, it’s an endless runner and a shining example of the “just one more time” kind of game, with each crash only calling you back for more. It might remind many of Super Hexagon or even Race the Sun, but Barrier X ends up being ruthless and rage-inducing by comparison. With the erratic, twisted way it throws things at you it’s only fair that the game comes with a warning for players with a history of epilepsy or photosensitive seizures.
Barrier X asks the player to do only one thing: survive.
Barrier X is a simple game. Avoid the obstacles for 30 seconds and you’ll unlock the next level, live for 60 and you’ll beat the level. The game drops you into a headlong rush towards the horizon, having you change lanes to avoid the barriers that want to do nothing but crush your dreams just as much as they want to crush you..
Barrier X is a game about speed, frustration, and intense reflexes.
With only seven levels, you might think the game will rush by pretty fast, but Barrier X is prepared to prove you wrong. Unlike most endless runners where the speed builds up gradually, Barrier X launches you into the game with blinding speed. For every 15 seconds you live, the level speeds up. You may not see many of these boosts at first, but you will the better you get. But even with intense focus, you’re still going to eventually run into some barriers.
Focusing on the barriers would be anyone’s first reaction, but the game keys you in on the real way to live longer. “Don’t stay on the Red Lines.” flashes across the screen as you are thrown into the first level. See, Barrier X is more than just a game of avoidance, it’s also a game about color. Simply, red is not your friend because that’s where the barriers are. Therefore, making sure you don’t spend too much time on the red lines makes the game much easier.
Too bad red isn’t the only color Barrier X introduces you to. Subsequent levels introduce blue and green as well. Blue requires you to turn either left or right depending on where the arrow is pointing. Green asks that you ride along it, breaking through any barriers ahead. Failure to follow either of these results in you being locked onto your path, prompting you to press Q to escape or do nothing and suffer.
As if three separate colors weren’t enough to keep a track of, Barrier X also introduces a Rival in later levels. Racing alongside you, the Rival will occasionally target you with missiles, indicated by a large white X on top of you. You can get rid of the Rival by spamming the E key for a barrage of fire-and-forget missiles, letting them take the Rival out regardless of the lane. Unfortunately, it won’t be long before another Rival takes its place..
Even for all its simplicity, Barrier X is not without its problems, and for a game that requires intense split-second reflexes and focus, its problems can be pretty jarring. Every time you cross a 15 second marker, the game speeds up. This speed up, however, is presented through a brief warping of the game. The colors invert and the game slows down ever so briefly. Though it’s not initially troubling, this brief slowdown can often be enough to break your focus and result in a crash.
More trouble is brought by the blue lanes, requiring you to momentarily shift your focus from the lanes to the arrows, making sure you’re turning the right way. Even green sometimes pops up not far from where you are, resulting in a guaranteed lock. You can escape with Q, of course, but there are times where this lockdown lets the Rival lock-on to you, letting it decimate you with missiles the moment you break out. These problems can get frustrating, but by no means ruin the game.
Graphics & Sound
Simplicity can be gorgeous, and Barrier X is an excellent example of beautifully simple graphics. The shifting neon colors, contrasted by the stark white of your ship and barriers create wonderful imagery that fits the game’s style perfectly. Each change of the lane is accompanied by a soft tilt of the screen, each slow down is almost cinematic in its style. Barrier X does its best to keep the visuals appealing but simple. There’s not a lot to distract you on the screen, which helps in a game where focus is everything. Barrier X’s graphics work well to convey the speed and energy that the game exhibits, letting you feel as if you are rushing past obstacles at breakneck speeds.
Sound is easily the best thing about the game. Not only is rushing by each obstacle signified with a whoosh, but the sounds made by both hitting a Rival and crashing into a barrier feel like they’re actually happening. Each time you hit a speed up warp, the sound conveys the feeling of moving faster as well. However, it’s not the sound effects that truly make the craziness of Barrier X fun, it’s the music.
The game consists of just 6 or so tracks, but each and every single one of them is a treat to listen to. They’re simple, almost like retro, 8-bit arcade compositions that fit the game perfectly. There’s no distracting electronic music, or even dub-step. Barrier X keeps it plain, simple, and so much fun. It’s clean and appropriately paced for the twitchy game that Barrier X is, and it’s actually pretty hard to not find yourself tapping in rhythm to the music.
There were hardly any performance issues on the PC version of the game, it ran smoothly on my laptop, and even on another low-spec laptop that I used to test performance.
Barrier X is an intense, nail-biting game of frantic high-speed action. It’s crazy and intense, and if you enjoy games with a bit of a learning curve then there isn’t much that should keep you away from trying it out, especially at just $2.99. If Super Hexagon was something you enjoyed, Barrier X is worth checking out. A little that goes a long way, and though the ride might end soon, it keeps making you come back for more. Not recommended for those that get easily frustrated or rage-quit easy.
Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Intel Core i7-6700HQ 2.60GHz
GeForce GTX 960M 2GB
Simple and fast-paced, Barrier X will keep you coming back for more.