At first glance, Residual looks a little like Starbound—and that’s not too far off. Residual is a sidescrolling survival game. Your ship has crash landed on a procedurally generated world, and you have to learn to survive on it by gathering, crafting, and exploring. While Residual definitely has all of these things, its execution is lacking.
Mechanically, Residual is a slog. It’s just not very fun to play. Using a controller, jumping is bound to “X” (one an Xbox One controller) by default, which is a strange choice. But everything from the movement to the inventory management is a pain in the ass. Moving feels horrible, and it’s especially terrible that there are sections that require a bit of platforming. Using items from your inventory is also annoying. Nothing about how items work is explained, which is something I don’t usually mind, but Residual hardly guides you in their usage at all. Now, I’m not saying games have to hold your hand, but good game design can teach players how to play games without needing to—and Residual has nothing resembling that.
Compounding my frustrations with Residual’s controls is the choice to have a drone companion, constantly repeating the same one-liners over and over. At first, I enjoyed Residual’s disaster bot and the sense of humor it imparted, but it wore out its welcome very quickly. What’s worse is that most of the comments made by the bot rarely helped. It could have been a great opportunity to steer players in the right direction, and it does a little, but not nearly enough to justify its annoying presence.
Since you first crash on the alien planet, your ship serves as a sort of home base. Inside is a replicator that allows you to create tools essentially for survival and progression. As you play and explore you’ll discover artifacts that contain datacubes which will enable new technologies.
On first impression, Residual’s pixel art graphics didn’t stand out, but the longer I played, the more I started to loathe them. Visually, Residual can be called appealing, but actually making out what these pixelated blobs of color are supposed to be can be tricky. This goes double for items in your inventory, with items hard to distinguish by sight alone. I think the visual style is meant to be an upgraded visual homage to the games of the Apogee era, but it just doesn’t really work out that well.
Residual is hard for me to write about, because I had such a miserable time playing it. On paper, it’s a formula for a fun game, but its execution just wasn’t doing it for me. It’s just not very fun to play, and it really doesn’t bring much new to the survival game genre.
Residual is available now on Steam.
A Steam key was provided to us for this review.
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