Version Reviewed: 1.2.5
App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Xenowerk is an arcadey top-down shooter from Pixelbite games in which players control a lone "exterminator" tasked with clearing out an underground science lab infested with various alien lifeforms. Although it can get a little repetitive, thevariety of weapons, awesome look and feel, and compelling score attack hooks make it a stand out shooter.
The first thing anyone will notice about Xenowerk is just how good it looks. For being set inside an underground facility it's surprisingly colorful. Everything - from the bathrooms to the alien invaders themselves - look great.If I had to complain about anything visually in Xenowerk, it might be the protagonist's gait, but that's an artistic choice that ties weirdly well into this cartoony world.
In just about every scenarioplayers find themselves deposited on a floor in the science lab with a set of objectives, two weapons, and a flashlight. From there it's up to them to decide whether they want to take the objectives head-on or do a thorough sweep of the floor first. Objectives are usually an assortment of a handful of tasks (i.e. download a file from a computer, blow up a generator, etc.), most of which aren't terribly exciting, but Xenowerk's core combat and weapon combos help make the sloggy objective system feel worth it.
The controls are a lot like Pixelbite's other top-down shooter, Space Marshals, with touch screen buttons and joysticks that work surprisingly well. That being said, Xenowerk also has perfect mfi controller support, making it the ultimate way to play. Xenowerk, being more action-focused, also doesn't offer any stealth combat options - though the core combat can get tough as the waves of enemies get bigger.
Unlike Space Marshals, Xenowerk is much more of a score-attack game. There isn't much narrative to speak of and the menu features a leaderboard. In addition, players can issue challenges to Game Center friends to beat their score on any given level. To score big on a level they'll need to balance the number of enemies they kill back-to-back to earn multipliers with their ability to survive, which creates an interesting risk/reward system.
As players progress they'll earn coins that they can use to unlock new armor and weapons, which really help to change up the gameplay of Xenowerk. Weapons include things like assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, and flamethrowers, each of which feel very distinct yet equally viable on any given level, while armor grants extra protection, heightened movement speed, and additional special abilities like health regen, speed boosts, and more. While all of these pieces of gear are fun to unlock and experiment with, late-game equipment can make earlier gear feel completely obsolete. While this isn't a huge problem it does feel a bit strange, especially considering weapons can earn experience and get upgraded as they're used, and these upgrades rarely compensate enough to feel comparable to their more expensive counterparts.
For players looking for a tightly-constructed arcade shooter, Xenowerk comes highly recommended. Despite being a bit repetitive, it offers a lot of player customization with weapon combos and some great score-chasing hooks, all while looking really fantastic.