There are so many things worth spending your money on: a gift for that creepy man in the bus stop, one of those rubbery, gooey aliens that were popular in the '90s, or – if all else fails – a can of delicious Spam. With so many quality products on the market, Project Root may just seem a little bit underwhelming. Indeed, it doesn't have the usefulness of spam, or the biological positives of the alien. And you're not even going to get your face licked, like you would presenting a pressie to that man in the bus stop. So why bother? That's one of the unfortunate things about this OPQAM developed outing: it isn't a bad game, generally – but it's very difficult to enjoy for a number of reasons.
The plot is impossible to follow, and that's not because it's convoluted, but because all of the action takes place in a tiny text box in the bottom right of the screen, while you're being attacked by dozens of enemies. There's a power company doing vaguely dodgy things – completely fictional, of course – and you're trying to get back at them by blowing stuff up that they own. There are probably a few more specifics, but who knows? Look away from the screen long enough to catch up on the plot, and you're going to lose a life.
The actual gameplay is decent enough – when things are going your way. If you have a swarm of enemies coming at you from the front, it's a blast to blow them away. It's even quite hard once it gets going – but that's largely because the camera angle puts you very close to the bottom of the screen. As a result, you can see a mile ahead, but nothing behind you – not a great idea for a game built around the idea of dodging projectiles.
You can upgrade your ship so that it's faster or turns more smoothly, but experience points are rare and it can take an age to level up. Upgrade the wrong thing when you have the chance, and you'll struggle more than somebody who lucked into the right improvements. You get a boost when you finish a level, but it's hard to truly appreciate that fact when you're stuck on one of the later stages.
One of the most confusing choices is that you're expected to shoot separately for flying and ground enemies. What this actually equates to is you just holding down both triggers, for hope that something connects. This can make things especially confusing in some of the harder moments.
It's a fairly short game, if taken as a series of objectives and levels, but it's much longer in actuality because there are no checkpoints. Get distracted by the aforementioned text box? Bad luck – back to the start you go. This, perhaps more than anything else, will make you feel indifferent to the entire experience. Is it worth your time to do the same thing over and over?
It doesn't help that the objectives are fairly samey in the first place. Destroy something. Protect something. It all amounts to the same thing, and the only difference is the small piece of text in the top corner, pointing out your aim. The levels are very similarly designed, and the music is usually similar, too.
Games like Project Root make you contemplate the futility of existence, and not in a good way like the philosophical musings of Postman Pat. It's not a bad game – not like Rambo or Ride to Hell: Retribution – it's just very, very boring. There needs to be a reason to play, and there's just nothing here to get excited about.