Who knew growing flowers could cause so much destruction? X S.E.E.D combines a strange premise with old-school video game rules — three hits and it’s Game Over. This game’s strategic action gameplay is worth the $1 on Xbox Live Indie Games, but don’t get too excited. X S.E.E.D doesn’t have the best money shot (yet).
X S.E.E.D reminds me of Sega Genesis graphics. It’s not as impressive as what you often saw on the Super NES, but it gets the job done. (Yeah, yeah, Sega fans, I know there were exceptions.) Nothing stands out. The protagonist, stages, enemies and your flowers do enough to avoid the “shitty” label and that’s it.
The death sounds of the flower bosses are pitifully effective, but the sound effects are forgettable otherwise. OK, OK, I admit that I like the sound it makes when you select something from the title menu. Nothing else!
The music is easily the worst part about X S.E.E.D. The tracks are painfully generic and fail to give the game an audio personality of its own. Dun, dun, dun, dun-dun, dun, dun, dun, dun-dun, dun, dun, dun. Can someone get a copyright on that crap and sue anyone else who uses it?
X S.E.E.D clearly subscribes to the notion that gameplay matters most. The game works very well as a premise. You walk slowly from left to right and don’t have much of a jump, but you gain seeds that you can throw out. These seeds grow into flowers with powers. You fight flowers with flowers (OK, I’ll stop). The first two flowers give you a basic offense and defense: one shoots fireballs and the other grows into a vertical vine that you can stand behind for protection (it goes away once its lifebar depletes). Later you can grow a flower that shoots three fireballs, a flower that shoots a fireball straight up, a plant that serves as a platform and so on.
What I really like about X S.E.E.D. is how methodical you have to be to get through each stage. You have to plan ahead to avoid danger and take out enemies one by one. It’s like an old Shinobi game where the ninjas are big gardeners. I also like that you can grow fireball flowers on top of each other to construct a steady stream of fire.
But like I said earlier, this game has no mercy. Three hits is all you get. It’s not as brutal as it sounds, thankfully. The game is fairly short, so if you had continues, it would last no time. This is not to say the game can’t be annoying. When you get hit, you are sent to the beginning of the stage. The enemies you killed along the way stay dead, but you have to walk your slow ass back to where you were. Why? If the purpose is to prevent cheap consecutive deaths, just send me back a few feet. The other annoyance is this enemy attack that sets the ground on fire. The idea is to wait for the fire to die down before you can proceed. Fine. The problem is the game kills me sometimes even when the fire seems to be gone. It’s a minor but frustrating glitch.
X S.E.E.D tells you how long you’ve been playing, keeps a high score, and offers two endings. Perhaps one of these things would inspire a second playthrough. The reality is I don’t care about any of these things. The game is also fairly repetitive, so I don’t think it’s a fun game to play for the long term. Don’t get me wrong, the game’s approach is original and refreshing, but once you learn the lesson of defense first, even the bosses don’t stand a chance.
We need more games like X S.E.E.D, a weird concept that works very well. The problem lies in the game’s short length and lack of variation. There is hope, though. Developer Mikael Tillander said on Twitter that a Metroidvania sequel is in the works. Bring it on.