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Vostok Inc. (Xbox)

Vostok Inc. is Nosebleed Interactive's second video game and is available on console (£11.99) and PC (£10.99) and quite frankly, it is an absolute bargain for that price! There is so much to this game that it could have easily cost more.

It is a 2D, wonderfully colourful, twin-stick shooter set in space. So far I haven't suffered with any lag during gameplay which is pretty crucial in a twin-stick shooter as timing is key and usually means the difference between life and death!
There is amazing background music and it does change as you go through the solar systems (my absolute favourite is Casin!) and is affected by you boosting which is pretty awesome!

There is a feature where you can actually remix your own music, which I thought was a nice touch although it didn't take long for me to realise my forte was definitely not in the music industry.
The different weapon fire sounds fantastic and the crackle of the asteroids breaking apart is great.
On the other hand, I find that in games like this, where you will be more than likely playing for hours (and I rarely take my finger off of the right stick which fires my guns), it does get repetitive and if I am honest, once I unlocked the unicorn firing weapon combo I did turn the volume down. The sound of those unicorns still makes me shudder.

It does take a little while to get properly into Vostok Inc. but once you do, its really good fun!
You start out in Sol, our very own solar system right next to the motherbase which is where you can purchase and upgrade weapons, ship upgrades and radar upgrades too; but of course, you have no Moolah (the currency of Vostok Inc.). You need to discover all of the planets, build on them and then fight off the enemies and bosses as you go along, all the while collecting precious Moolah.

Shooting enemies and asteroids will earn you enough Moolah to really get started. This is where the game starts to get more interesting! You find a planet, land on it and suddenly there is a whole extra game element to contend with!
It's almost like a clicker game, I suppose, just without the constant clicking for money, instead you purchase buildings and upgrade those which generate an ever increasing amount of Moolah per second with each building and upgrade you buy. There did seem to be a bug when you toggle the amount of buildings you purchase in one go- no matter the amount, it seems to only ever count as 'one' towards build related challenges but this now seems to be fixed for me.
Now I've mentioned them... the challenges (objectives), there are quite literally hundreds of them (594 to be exact)! Most you will likely do without much effort at all. There are some however that will require great effort and great loss, all in one go! Thankfully there is a page where you can keep track of your challenges and the ones that will unlock an achievement are marked with little trophies on them.

You will benefit from rescuing floating managers which with help from the manager upgrade at the motherbase will notify you to their whereabouts.

There are 4 different types of manager:
  1. Investor - they will double the amount of Moolah you currently have on you and then will disappear.
  2. Consultant - they will boost your Moolah production briefly and will disappear again.
  3. Executive - they have larger offices as well as their own 'Tamagotchi style'  stats and mini game and will provide a boost % depending on how happy they are.
  4. Middle Manager - they work in offices in your ship, providing 3% bonus per manager to Moolah production and will die if you die, which you will, a lot.
They will run out of oxygen pretty quickly though so its imperative that if you are planning to rescue them, you get there sharpish! There is an upgrade on the ship which will give you a 2% chance of dropping a manager when you kill an enemy which certainly helps later on when you've attempted to kill a boss, failed miserably and then lost 35 middle managers which isn't even enough for the achievement, and need to start collecting them all over again!

Executives provide larger boost percentages to Moolah production but they are also more difficult to keep happy. When you break asteroids or kill enemies they can drop collectibles to give to your executives (food, drink and gifts) which in turn fills up their stats bars when given. If their stats bars completely empty they will become angry but so far, they won't disappear and I cant tell any negative effects it has on Moolah production.
Executive managers also provide a third game element to Vostok Inc.! Each executive (there are 12) has their own mini game to play. Some are a lot more difficult than others and the controls can feel a little unresponsive at times which is frustrating but generally they are pretty fun and a good addition to the game. Plus if you do well enough in them, you can get more items to give to the executive managers and it also passes the time whilst your waiting for enough Moolah to accrue so you can buy your next upgrade.

You can also do races once you purchase the upgrade in the motherbase to show you where the race starts (a little green flag on the map). You have to follow the checkpoints as quickly as you can and are rewarded for completing the race. Yes, I know. This game seemingly has everything!

In total there are 6 solar systems with over 40 planets. In order to progress to the next solar system you just have to beat the current solar system's boss and purchase the next wormhole to teleport through.. pretty straightforward!
I love the different layouts of the solar systems, the different enemies to be found within, the planet names are particularly funny at times as well as the leaders of each solar system that you will meet. The raccoon was a real laugh out loud moment for me, but you'll have to play it to completely understand what I mean!
The bosses aren't too tricky as long as you have an upgraded ship and weapons and that's coming from someone who isn't exactly amazing at twin-stick shooters!

There are 19 different weapon combinations which you unlock as you experiment and then upgrade each one to increase the power. You can assign 4 of your favourites to your D-pad. So far my favourite is the energy arc although seemingly I'm not very good at using it against bosses. Its a good idea to have a few back up combinations stored into your D-pad so you can switch your fire type when necessary.

Since its initial release, Vostok Inc. has had an update which now gives you the chance to ignore Jimmy's calls. He was incredibly annoying with his constant, repetitive chat so a sincere thank you to the developers for addressing this!

Vostok Inc. has 45 achievements available for 1,000 Gamerscore. There are two achievements with odd number Gamerscore (1g and 9g) which will put some people off buying the game but Vostok Inc. really doesn't seem to be too hard to complete, just time consuming (in a good way!). Currently there are no unobtainable or achievements that can be missed through normal gameplay. The achievements are well thought out and well named, which I love! Clear effort has been put in and shines through in every game's achievement list. If you need any  help or guidance then please head over to True Achievements where you will find plenty of information!

My only criticism is that there are moments when everything seems to grind to an absolute halt and no amount of mini games, racing or killing enemies can make up for the void I find myself in. There is no offline production so literally everything stops when you quit the game which I feel is a real shame as I think this could have helped lessen the grind. I have found myself leaving the game in motherbase or on a planet (so I'm safe) whilst I go about some daily chores nap just so that when I return; I have accrued Moolah and then am able to continue playing a little more.

Overall a really enjoyable and addictive game. At first you will literally spend hours getting yourself set up and then you'll find yourself returning for an hour here or there just to get a little more progression. If I had to give it a score, it would be 8/10. Definitely worth a play if you haven't already!

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