A long time ago we used to play a game called SWIV. It was a stupid name then and it is now, but basically you flew a helicopter around a battlefield and shot things. We adored it on the Amiga because it was so hilariously violent in a vehicular combat kind of way and it really felt like you were single handedly taking on an army in your delicate but formidable chopper. Project Root is incredibly similar to SWIV, but unfortunately for developers OPQAM, it’s no longer the early 90s.
In Project Root you fly over battlegrounds and shoot things. One button to shoot things in the air, one to shoot things on the ground, and one button to release a special weapon such as a volley of missiles that will seek out targets. Generally you shoot all the things you can find until a boss shows up, then you kill that. Sometimes you protect something by shooting all the things you can find until a boss shows up, then you kill that. This kind of repetitive gameplay was forgiveable in 1991 when the Amiga had 1Mb of RAM, but really games have moved on from there.
Nowhere in Project Root do you get the bullet-hell ballet that Ikaruga perfected, the story isn’t engaging in the way that Starfox managed (say what you want, but you still remember who Slippy is), the weapons and power ups aren’t interesting like in the old Xenon shmups. Theres no sense of the progress that was made in the genre and, to be honest, the genre at its most basic is incredibly dull.
There’s simply nothing to help Project Root stand out. The story is flat and told via small text boxes, the graphics are uninspired and far from spectacular, there’s not even any kind of multiplayer mode to give it legs for a rainy afternoon. Admittedly it’s cheap, and available with Cross Buy so if you pick it up on the PS4 you’ll get a copy for your Vita, but when that’s the best thing about a game it’s probably best avoided. Sadly as a game this is a bit of an irrelevance, a relic from a bygone era, except the games from that era were often better.