QLIONE (Qualia) Review
Hot off the release of Suguri: Perfect Edition, Rockin' Android presents QLIONE (Qualia), a new game that can best be described as a combination of a bullet hell shooter and puzzle game. Can Rockin' Android deliver another surprise hit?
Like any puzzle game, the overall gameplay is simple. There are two commands: explosion and vaccum. Explosion sets a bomb that will explode after a set time and vaccum sets out a trap that will slowly suck in enemies for a set time. Players must learn to utilize these two commands against enemies who slowly move through the stage. While fun at first, the gameplay gets old quickly. Because the enemies move too slowly and the bombs don't explode quickly enough, players end up sitting around, waiting for some action to happen. When it finally does, the player has to repeat the process again and go through another agaonizing wait.
The boss fights move at a slightly different pace due to the increased difficulty. Bosses will take up a large chunk of the screen, giving players less breathing room, and shoot bullet patterns that, while not as overwhelming as those in bullet hell shooters, will give players a tough time. Part of that difficulty comes from the player's small arsenal. Because neither the vaccum or bomb shoots far enough, players will have to inch closer until their weapons are within range. By that time, a bullet or boss' limb will usually hit the player.
While the player has to be on the move moreduring boss fights, dodging the limbs and projectiles, the player's bombs still explode after the same set time. So while players must move around at a more frantic pace, it doesn't change the fact that they will still have to endure an agonizing wait just to see if an attack will damage the boss. That wait time effectively means players are sitting around waiting, rather than playing.
QLIONE has some truly interesting visuals. The environment looks like a net; as players move through, vaccum, and bomb it, the net will distort accordingly. Considering that this is an indie game, these effects are quite notable and deserve a nod. Otherwise, the graphics are still rather simplistic. The character, enemies, and bosses are made up of simple geometric shapes. This low budget look actually fits quite well; however, the game lacks an option to play it windowed or at a smaller resolution. As a result, when playing QLIONE on higher resolution monitors, players will see stretched out enemies and backgrounds. It's a shame that this makes the overall game look terrible when a simple windowed option, which is included in most PC games, would have fixed the problem.
The music is the same electronic, house style that followers of Rockin' Android have become accustomed to. As the settings change, the music does as well. While fighting against the slow grunts, the music has a slower beat to match. Once the grunts are gone and the boss is about to arrive, the music becomes more upbeat, alerting players of the difficult fight to come. Like the graphics, while not revolutionary, the music transitions were quite fitting and shows how an indie game can still wow its players through clever design.
It's disappointing to see Rockin' Android deliver such a slow paced game after Suguri: Perfect Edition. The prospect of QLIONE seems fun, but it has a couple of design and technical flaws that keep it from being a memorable doujin game. The interesting graphics and electronic soundtrack may pique some players' interest, but there is not much else to justify a purchase.