Remote Life is a shoot ’em up, so you should almost immediately know what to expect. An alien mothership is headed towards Earth and, after a ship is teleported inside to take it down and immediately fails, you’re tasked with fighting your way in from the outside. Naturally this involves shooting your way through hordes of aliens, grabbing powerups for wildly impractical, but fun weapons, and dodging bullets.
You play as Pilot John Leone and, whilst you do have to take out an alien mothership single-handed, you do not have to do it single-gunned. In fact your ship has three classes of default guns that you can switch between at will using the shoulder buttons: gatling gun, split lasers, and missiles. These have unlimited ammunition, but the real fun starts when you acquire a power up, upgrading one of your weapons into something more destructive until its ammo runs out. There’s also class D weapons, which are bombs that you have to pick up before you can use them and there’s plenty of different types of those as well.
You might think limited ammo would restrict you, but Remote Life isn’t stingy with its weapons, so you can and should use them as much as you like. This is a relief because this is a very, very difficult game. I’ve been playing on easy and had to learn very quickly that if you try saving your best weapons for when you need them you’ll either die before you do or accidentally pick up something else that replaces it.
Much like classic games of the genre, it only takes one hit to take you out, whether it’s an enemy, a projectile, or a wall, and those three things are all over the place. Enemies charge at you and attack from all sides, walls move around or rotate in complex patterns, and large doors open and close to pen you into areas. The levels themselves are claustrophobic, full of tight fits and small areas, demanding careful navigation if you don’t want to find yourself splattered all over the scenery. Of course there’s also bombs that force you to rush forward to take them out before they explode, which is a bit risky given all that other stuff going on as well.
It’s a challenge, but it’s almost always fair. Initially it seems almost impossible to get through there’s so much going on, but as you get used to enemy patterns and paths you’ll start feeling like you’re almost competent. There are a few niggles, such as some levels starting with enemies surrounding you, requiring very quick reactions to get out without losing lives on the first couple of tries. Thankfully you’ve got five lives on Easy mode and you can even pick up extra ones occasionally in the levels, so it’s just forgiving enough to be merely very hard.
If you really want even more difficulty, there’s three higher difficulty levels to pick between. The difficulty of the bosses can be a little inconsistent, difficulty-wise, with the first one taking me down multiple times, but the following two only making me panic a bit as I took them out first try – maybe I just got better at the game? Other than that the bosses are creative and varied, its just their degree of difficulty that’s unpredictable.
Remote Life looks great, particularly when you’re firing some of your bigger weaponry and it’s filling up the screen. Aesthetic design is excellent, everything is very dark and dirty looking, fitting with the claustrophic and horrific levels, where you’ll see humans being pumped through tubes and other such grisly things. The music is thumping techno that fits very well with the high speed, tense gameplay as well.
The story is a little more prevalent than you might expect in the genre as well, with occasionally cutscenes and even dialogue as you encounter things in levels and your character reports them back to command. John sounds like a synthesised voice, which isn’t ideal, but it does the job well enough and the story isn’t exactly the focus anyway, especially since you’ll be quite busy with the swarms of enemies and surprisingly hostile walls.