Riddled Corpses EX (PS4 and PS Vita) Review

Every now and again I come across a game which I start, get absolutely destroyed in, decide to have a break, then come back to it and find myself becoming totally addicted and can’t stop playing it (Yes, my application to the W.H.O. is in the post). Riddled Corpses EX is so frustrating, so difficult, so bloody annoying, and yet so entertaining and fun! It’s a twin-stick shooter from the developer behind the excellent Xenon Valkyrie, Diabolical Mind, which is a single person developer. Not to mention the amazing port from PC to consoles was performed by yet another single person developer, COWCAT, who also aided the port of Xenon Valkyrie+ as well as releasing his own game, Demetrios, in 2016.

Originally, Diabolical Mind had created the PC version of the game back in 2015. COWCAT has come along and improved on pretty much everything in the port over to the PS4, PS Vita and Xbox One. We get a locked 60fps, two-player co-op, a story mode and more (which I’ll go into later). Just like with Xenon Valkyrie+, this remaster pretty much defines what a remaster should be in terms of fixing what was broken, improving what wasn’t quite right and adding new content where it felt necessary. So, why did a ‘quick 10-15 minute go’ turn into a 7-hour long marathon the other day? Let’s find out…

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Venture through six levels of increasing difficulty and frustration.

Riddled what?
The story mode in Riddled Corpses EX is where you’ll want to start, don’t go trying to run before you can crawl! The game has a simple story, one which was added within this remaster, about a bunch of scientists who have awoken a demonic force from another dimension, which in turn has opened the gates of hell, allowing a tonne of demons and zombies to cross over and enter our Earth-realm. There are a few brave people who have joined together to form a resistance against this evil, with new characters joining them along the way. The Resistance requires all the help they can get if they are to stand a chance against the demonic Erebus and his enormous undead and demonic army.

You must work your way through six levels, each with its own rather steep level of difficulty, as you work your way through waves of enemies who have no motive other than to slaughter you and, I imagine, devour your body and eat your soul and brain! All of the levels, bar one, work the same way – work your way through ala beat-em-up style as you stop at set positions whilst giant demons and hordes of zombies/evil dogs/creatures mindlessly attack you. Each stage also ends with a boss battle which is usually really, really hard and so annoying to beat if you don’t have enough lives or you aren’t a high enough level.

The one level that’s different is an auto-scrolling level where you’re on a bike. Other than that, it’s ultimately the same as the other levels only more annoying as you don’t have much freedom to move around and avoid the onslaught. However, whenever I say annoying, I don’t mean it in a bad way – I mean it as in you’ll die a lot until you become a badass. So, with your two abilities, your health pick-ups, your purchasable characters, and your skilful quick responses – can you overcome the demonic onslaught and save the world, or is it doomed to die all because of a weak and terrible resistance???

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Unlock various characters with different abilities to help you on your journey.

So many new faces…
So, what is Riddled Corpses EX? Basically, it’s a very brutal Rogue-like twin-stick shooter. In the beginning, you will die over and over again until you both ‘Git Gud’ and collect gold which is left behind as you devour the undead hordes of zombies in the first level. Once you die, you have the chance to either upgrade your current characters level or purchase new characters. However, new characters are very expensive, so your first point of call will be to splash your cash on increasing your level as this makes your attacks hurt the enemies more. Then you’ll want to jump back to the same level and try again. It’s a case of rinse and repeat many times until you are at a high enough level that you can overcome the various waves and progress to the next level, or that you can purchase a new character with new abilities. 

The problem with purchasing a new character is that the new one will begin at level one, so you must also return to level one in order to grind your way back up. What I did was grind long and hard until I could unlock the character who earns double gold while they are being used. I then went grinding for a few levels (mainly the second level as it’s quite easy yet gives a lot of gold) and then used the doubled up gold to pay for upgrades to the other characters. It’s not the best way to do it, but I was having fun with the addictive gameplay so I didn’t mind replay the same level a number of times. 

In regards to abilities, your initial character, Jon, has nothing – he’s your bog-standard character with average stats. Cloe has a magnet ability and can suck in items and gold without walking over them, Liery obtains double the gold you collect, Fael has double the amount of life, and Erika (who is unlocked when you hit level 20 with the previous three characters) is a lot stronger than the others. There is also Nora, which I haven’t unlocked yet, and both a Turret and an ‘MK1000 machine‘ – again, I don’t own these so can’t tell you what they do! Each character has their own combat statistics and will benefit you greatly in the various levels, but it still won’t stop you from dying a lot!

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Slow down time in order to get the advantage against the mass of enemy projectiles.

Git Gud…
Riddled Corpses EX also throws you a bone every now and again in the form of powerups which help you turn the tides of war in your favour at crucial moments. You have your standard health packs which will give you extra lives – in Riddled Corpses EX, if you get hit once then you die, lose all your lives and it’s game over. Then you have a TNT pack which can be used upon request as it damages every creature on the screen, including big enemies and bosses. Finally, you can pick up a clock which basically gives you the ability to slow down time – I initially thought it stopped time, but there have been occasions where I have seen some bullets still move when activated, although they are very, very slow. So, if you get stuck in a corner, you can either use the TNT or time ability to blow everyone up or slow down time and weave your way through everyone whilst blasting them in real-time speed.

What really stands in Riddled Corpses EX’s favour is its addictive nature. I know I keep going on about it, but how many times you have played a game and become bored because you have to backtrack over and over again in order to grind yourself to a better position so you can progress? I imagine it will be a lot. Yet, how many times you have turned on your mobile phone and played a simple F2P tap-based game where you are repeating the same actions over and over again yet you don’t feel bored as you’re constantly progressing and always getting that little bit further each time? Again, probably a lot if you dabble in mobile gaming. Diabolical Mind and CowCat have created the perfect balance of having to grind to move on, thus increasing the lifespan of Riddled Corpses EX, whilst also making it fun and allowing the game to give you the sense of progression every single run you make. 

If I was playing the second level about 10 times, so about an hour, and at the end of that hour I had enough gold to go up one level, then I would get bored. But you’re literally upgrading every run (or two runs at higher levels) after you have paid the initial large sum to unlock a character. Then, once you’ve played for a long time, subconsciously becoming a god at the game, and levelled everyone up – you gain access to the best person in the game who is probably the only one capable of taking on the final boss. It’s all been designed and implemented perfectly to ensure you “Git Gud” as you level up and then by the time you’re at the point to face the Evil One, you shouldn’t have that much of an issue. 

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So many changes and improvements!

What’s new?
I’ve posted the list of changes over the original PC version above (I thought it would save typing them all out). Most of the updates, other than the local co-op, are also implemented on the Vita version (which is also Cross-buy with the PS4 version). COWCAT are great supporters of the PS Vita with Xenon Valkyrie+ being cross-buy with the PS4 and PS Vita, as well as Demetrios – all with their own Platinum Trophies. So, as an unusual and not normal recommendation, I suggest you Support both Diabolical Mind and COWCAT and go buy Xenon Valkyrie+ (here), Riddled Corpses EX (here), and Demetrios (here) and in the process, you’ll get access to a possible six platinum trophies!

But the fun doesn’t stop at the Story mode – not at all! You have access to a Survival and Arcade mode.

Survival is straightforward – using any character you have unlocked, at any level they are at, you’re placed within an arena where you must fend of an infinite onslaught of evil hordes as a timer counts down. You must see how many waves you can obliterate before you meet your demise. I managed 2…

The Arcade mode is a lot more brutal – if you can imagine! In Arcade, you must play the whole game, from level one to the end in one go… Not only that – you can pick any character but you start the game with your character at level one! You will occasionally see a pickup flying around the screen which you must obtain by dodging the creatures as this powerup actually increases your level. This is a true test of your skill as you see how far you can make it as you work your way back up the ladder whilst also having no chance to continue where you get up to. I made it to the boss on level one…

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Bullet Hell, from the spawn of Hell. Very fitting!

Multiplayer?
One final thing, which I know some people will also be happy about – Riddled Corpses EX contains online leaderboards for solo and multiplayer runs of the Survival and Arcade modes. This allows you to see how great (or terrible in my case) you are doing against the rest of the world. I’m not sure if they are system-based leaderboards or if they are universal across all platforms, but there are a lot of scores on there. Oh, I kind of forgot to mention that the game supports full two-player local co-op on the PS4 and Xbox One as well. So grab a buddy and get them to help you if you ever get stuck whilst slaughtering the undead brainless beasts.

Technical:
Finally, I’ll be quick about this as I don’t have much to say, the graphics are delightful, even for pixel art – which you all know I’m not a fan of. Everything is clear and easy to see on both the TV and the PS Vita screen, I never got lost or confused as to where I was or how I could progress to a certain area. The Pickups and life meter do take up quite a big chunk of the screen, which could have possibly have been scaled a little better on bigger TV screens, but you can tap the touchpad and it will make it transparent, vanish, then back to normal on multiple taps. I think that’s cool as you don’t have to go into the menu or anything in order to hide it quickly. 

Sound wise – Riddled Corpses EX is perfect. Brilliant Chiptunes and the perfect music/sound effects as you play. You also have the option to play with the original music of the newly remastered soundtrack – I’ve played with both and they are both as good as each other. You can actually purchase the soundtracks from the composer Jorge Olivares (Giorgiost) here: https://giorgiost.bandcamp.com/ – The same composer did both Diabolical Mind games as well. 

My first go at the Riddled Corpses EX:

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
Riddled Corpses EX is the perfect example of how a remastered game should look in this generation of gaming. Fabrice Breton (COWCAT) has taken everything good about the original PC version of Riddled Corpses and improved, tweaked, fixed, and added things in order to deliver a solid twin-stick Rogue-like shooter with very addictive gameplay. Sure, there is a bit of grinding and some people may think it’s a bit monotonous or repetitive, but I had a blast playing for seven hours straight as I popped on a few podcasts and albums and pushed my way through wave after wave of disgusting pixel beings! The Cross Buy (with an extra platinum) is an extra bonus for us Sony gamers and for all the trophy hunters out there, just be aware that you’ll probably need about 10-15 hours in order to work your way through each iteration of the game. Also highly recommended to people who love the twin-stick genre, with games such as Jydge, Tesla Vs. Lovecraft, Omensight, and Nine Parchments.

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A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Riddled Corpses EX

£9.49
8.6

Final Score

8.6/10

The Good:

  • Great soundtrack
  • Incredibly addictive
  • Cross buy with PS Vita and PS4
  • Great pacing with progression constantly flowing
  • Tonnes of action with a smooth framerate and no bugs or issues at all

The Bad:

  • Can get repetitive if you don't find the genre entertaining
  • The difficulty curve is quite steep (for a reason), so some people may get put off before giving it a chance for a few hours
  • Some runs will feel like luck as your success will rely on what drops you get

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