REVIEW | CounterAttack

REVIEW | CounterAttack

LifeisXbox’s CounterAttack review | CounterAttack is a shmup. This is not a curse word if you aren’t familiar with this term. It means shoot ’em ups and I’m sure most of you have played one before. Most likely Geometry Wars, R-TYPE, or Sine Mora. Typically these games require a lot of skill and reflexes to dodge enemy fire. CounterAttack isn’t any different with lots of enemies on screen, you will have sweaty hands! Developer Relative Software released CounterAttack in March 2019 for Steam, so I was a bit surprised when I was contacted about reviewing this on Xbox. I’m glad though, I do follow the genre and the game wasn’t a stranger to me. This isn’t the best-known shmup on the gaming market but a few of my fellow friends who love the genre spoke highly of it. I share the same opinion, CounterAttack has a lot going for it but you’ll read that in my review!

ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.

What we Liked!

  • Upgrading your ship | While battling against the neverending alien forces you can upgrade your ship. The invading force drops green collectibles that can be used to improve your ship in multiple ways. Speed, side, spread, beam, missile, power, plasma, or drone. Each part can be upgraded faster than another and require more green collectibles. You have two others, an add-on that adds one upgradable part to each or a new life when the enemies got lucky and shot you down. I haven’t played every shmup game on the planet, sadly enough Xbox doesn’t have that many, but I found this mechanic to be very unique. While my tactic remained the same, update the side as soon as possible. (Trust me, this is a life-saver for when things get hectic and the enemy begins to swarm you from all sides) It was always fun to keep an eye on what I could improve, while split-second deciding what I needed first to survive the level.
  • A crazy amount of customizable options. Lots of attachments, weapons, and eight ships | To start you have eight different characters and each has a unique ship with different stats and powerful finisher moves. Things like a nuclear blast, a swarm of fighting planes, or extra powerful drones. Personally, I would have been happy with that but the developer Relative Software wanted more. We got more with over 300 different attachments and different weapons that alter the way of your combat style. I found it overwhelming at first and not all attachments make your ship better so you do have to be careful with selecting what you take with you. You have lots of choices but you can only take three attachments with you. Do you buff up your speed? Do more damage or take a helpful drone with you? That’s all up to you and part of the fun while playing with friends is seeing how they make their setup. I took the path of having more powerups and if I unleash them they do more damage.
  • Battle alone or with local and online friends, Earth is at stake so FIGHT! | There are 32 different levels, you don’t have to finish them all to rescue the planet as you pick your way through the story mode. The higher you go on the level selection screen the more difficult things become. Going from very easy to literally insane. My hardest shmup I finished is Ikaruga, it doesn’t become that difficult but this will absolutely be a challenging game for everyone. You can bring three other players, online or locally with you and that’s something I really appreciate. It is a blast to play with friends who like a little bit more challenge. Working together with attachments and playstyles can make the game a bit easier but the fun remains the same! Oh, and there’s always survival mode too if you are looking for your skill limit!

  • Other things that made me happy | Music especially deserves a shout-out. Delivering an energy boost in moments of adrenaline gameplay. The sound effects are also of pretty decent quality! Another thing I loved was how clearly the menu and UI worked. You’re never lost and everything is explained really well.

Mixed Feelings

  • Visuals and backgrounds | Our review section has a great name for the visuals from Counterattack, ‘Mixed Feelings’. Some backgrounds look outstanding. While others are annoyingly dark which makes it difficult to see enemies. The game is going for a retro look so don’t expect anything special. Ship designs or enemies are decent but nothing that stands out like the Millennium Falcon or The Borg cube. There are a lot of enemy ships on screen with lots of explosions, laser, and energy bullet effects. Nice to look at and more importantly it stays easy to follow, so you won’t easily lose track of your own ship. Most of the time you side-scroll your way through the levels but there are a few surprises like a Space Invaders-inspired camera angle.

  • Story | I have to meet the first gamer who plays a Shmup for the engaging story. So this doesn’t really impact my positive opinion about CounterAttack or the final score for it. Everything comes down to protecting Earth, you have a few audio conversations at each level but nothing that really stands out or explains why the aliens want to annihilate our blue planet. Could be that I missed it, as I have to be honest and say that it didn’t capture my full attention. I was glad to see that the dev elaborated the game a bit, I’m sure a few gamers will appreciate that. Especially those that are new to the shmup genre!

What we Disliked

  • Nothing to report, Sir. | There is nothing bad to be said about CounterAttack. As always I have to warn about how niche the shmup genre is. It is perfectly possible that you completely dislike the gameplay loop. You can say that about any game but the repetitive nature of the genre isn’t something that CounterAttack can magically remove. Please give it a try, if you never played a shmup before. And for those who are familiar with the genre, this is a must-have!

How long to beat the story |
How long to achieve 1000G |


CounterAttack is everything that a good Shmup game should be. Exciting gameplay, lots of action on screen, and fun mechanics that keep the game interesting for longer play sessions. That cooperative play with friends is a nice bonus too!

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