This past week, I had the chance to play Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2, which is a direct sequel to 2019’s Luminous Avenger iX (2019). This new entry in the series is a high-speed 2D side-scrolling adventure, just like its predecessor. In Luminous Avenger iX 2, our main hero (Copen) is now more destructive than ever with new abilities, weapons and capabilities.
The game was developed and published by Japanese game company, INTI CREATES. The studio is made up of Japanese game veterans and is responsible for the Mega Man Zero series, later entries to the Mega Man series (9 & 10), the many Gunvolt titles, Mighty No 9, the Blaster Master series and many other games.
I was only able to play a couple of hours this week of Luminous Avenger iX 2, so I’m calling this a preview more than a full game review. I mainly wanted to go over some of the things that stood out to me during my play through.
Retro Look, New Feel
Before playing this game I had only played a couple of demos from the Gunvolt series of games. After spending some time with Luminous Avenger iX 2, I started to notice some similarities between this and the Mega Man series of games. I have recently gone back to play the Mega Man Collection on PlayStation 4, but I’m terrible at those games now. Luminous Avenger iX 2 does feel like an updated version of that genre for today’s gamers.
There are many older games that I have revisited only to learn they just don’t feel like they did back in the day. Games that are insanely difficult when compared to what we’re playing today. Many of the recent retro-inspired releases may look old, but play like something new (games like Celeste). While Luminous Avenger iX 2 has a retro aesthetic, the controls and character movement feel much smoother and lighter, not heavy and janky like going back in time to a true retro experience.
While playing through Luminous Avenger iX 2, I was taken aback to the classic 2D side-scrolling adventure games like the Mega Man series.
Luminous Avenger iX 2 follows that same formula:
(1) Make your way through a short level and take out some bad guys.
(2) Time for a Boss Fight.
(3) Defeat the boss to gain their power.
Although the game follows this linear format, it’s nice to make your way through levels that feature different environments, enemies and layouts.
When it comes to leveling up and upgrading I’m a fan of the UI (User Interface). Everything is featured in the pause menu in a very easy-to-digest format. When games have too much in the form of upgrades, abilities, weapons and stats I quickly spend points without really paying any attention to what I’m upgrading (like in Borderlands 3). Since all of the information is laid out simply in the pause menu across a couple of tabs, it’s not only easy, but can be accessed and changed at any point in time.
Another big part of the game I’ve enjoyed is the art direction, story and other creative choices. For one, the game features full Japanese and American Voice Over for all characters. Even though the gameplay’s art style is retro and pixelated (which I love), the cutscenes and ultimate attacks feature beautiful anime-style artwork and animation. I’m also a fan of the music of the game. All of these elements come together to create a charming and fast-paced 2D adventure.
The one problem I ran into in Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2 (other than the unnecessarily complicated title) is that there is no cap on your healing ability. I’m not someone who believes that every game needs to be at a Soulslike (Dark Souls and Bloodborne-type) level of difficulty. I actually prefer my games to be pretty easy lately. As long as I’m getting a good story and some exciting gameplay, I’m happy.
That being said, Luminous Avenger iX 2 does need its “unlimited healing” — if there is a limit to healing, I still haven’t reached it. The fighting in this game is all about offense and attacking — there is no real defense. Sure, you can dash around and try to avoid the enemy, but that doesn’t work so great. There’s no block or parry. Instead Copen (your character) is given a large amount of HP (Hit Points), plus you are able to heal as you wish.
The battles, especially boss fights, are more about going all out and attacking your enemy non-stop. It’s all about hoping that you take out your enemy before they take you out. If you ever do get close to death there’s no need to panic, you can just heal yourself — over and over again. If that’s not enough for you, there are also times where Lola will bring you back to life.
I’ve played many recent games with great blocking and parrying mechanics (Ghost of Tsushima, Metroid Dread, Kena: Bridge of Spirits and many others). So, when I play an action game without it I sort of wonder why they didn’t add it in. I feel like Luminous Avenger iX 2 can use some form of blocking mechanic — unless that is yet to come in the form of an upgrade later in the game.
There were two things I didn’t notice right away, maybe because they weren’t really explained or because I sometimes miss things in game. I just get excited to play and don’t care to listen to lessons and tutorials. Either way I would like to share my two tips.
The first was the fireball special attack (aka Doomsday Charge EX Weapon). You are allowed to choose up to three EX Weapons, which you can constantly switch in and out of. It took me some time to figure out how to use them and that they were different attacks.
The second thing is more of a settings tip for the game. I had to turn Auto-Hover to OFF because after any DASH I would continue hovering in my boots and that kept throwing me off. I ended up trying to turn off my hover boots only to fall to my death many times.
After a few early hours into Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2, I can say that if you’re a fan of retro Mega Man style games, I think you will definitely appreciate this game. It has sort of scratched that Mega Man itch I’ve had lately, and I do plan to continue my journey and find more of these EX Weapons.
I even began looking through the back catalog of Gunvolt titles and other INTI CREATES releases. I actually think this may fall more under the Mega Man Zero games category than the original Mega Man games. Mainly because they also created the Zero titles — which I haven’t really touched.
I’m also a fan of the cool music, this story, the animation and anime style and the voice over. It’s a charming little indie game that reminds me so much of many of the games I used to play in the past, while bringing some new features to the genre.
Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2 is out today on Nintendo Switch, Xbox and PlayStation consoles and PC (via Steam).
*myVGBC was given a early review code by INTI CREATES for Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2.