Caster is simply an impressive 3D shooter

Posted: May 2, 2009 in Action, Shooter

When I look at Caster, I can’t believe that one independent developer accomplished all this. Caster is the epitome of what a 3D game with full 360 degree movement should be on a mobile device. From the visuals to the controls, this game is spot on, and you’ll find the gameplay requires every bit of your strategic prowess.

The story in Caster involves the Flanx who have taken the world of Middon. As a Caster recruit, you have the job of destroying them while collecting energy balls (similar to what you would find in Hero of Sparta or Assassin’s Creed for example). Caster offers 15 levels with 3 levels of difficulty: Casual, Normal, and Extreme. The energy balls collected can be used to augment weapons, shields and physical talents as well as increasing the distance that you can pick up energy balls. In terms of weapons, the pulse is your default weapon, and as you accumulate energy balls, you can upgrade to other weapons including Stun, Seeker Missiles, Orbit, and my favorites Blast and Eruptor. Blast allows you to make the ground disappear, while Eruptor raises the ground, literally building hills. Missions are provided through splash screens from your mission director Ahna.

Before the start of the game, you have the Menu and the Shop options alongside a map. The Shop option is an area for upgrading weapons and speed among other things. As you complete missions, additional ones will unlock and appear on the map. Blue signifies completed missions and red incomplete. After the first mission, the game takes a non-linear approach so you can select to from a few different missions (usually two new ones appear for every one you complete). Also, you can adjust the camera speed under the Options section.

One of things that Caster does extremely well is the 360 perspective. By moving your finger on the right side of the screen, you can rotate the view to any perspective you want all the way down to ground level without any lag and done very well.

You begin Caster with a useful tutorial that trains in the art of the jump, dash, attack modes, and shooting. The control scheme is simple, but does take practice. To dash, double tap the left side of the screen and shoot by double tapping the upper right side of the screen. At the bottom is the Jump button. In terms of attack modes, you tap the radar located on the lower right-hand side of the screen. The radar also tracks enemies as well as the location of your mission objective. In the top left corner is a green health bar and when you’re in dash mode, a second bar will appear below that. By the way, the soundtrack makes Caster feel like you’re in an anime world.

The gameplay is wide and varied, meaning you’ll have full room to roam and explore. Just to give an idea, you will walk in fields and snow-covered plains, climb jagged mountains and travel into deep valleys. Of course, you’ll also find yourself occasionally swimming in pools and dealing with sea creatures.

Caster is a game of strategy and most of the time, the best strategy is to retreat. Throughout each level, you’ll come face to face with various giant bugs which is the best way to describe them, and initially, they’re slow and mellow. As you move through, they will become increasingly aggressive either in pursuit or in shooting at you which will require you to switch out weapons. As meet your mission objectives, you’ll need to make it to a rendezvous point which is a yellow beam of light. One of the things I found is that while you can outrun your enemies and move to the next world because of the dash and jump skills, a consequence is that you don’t accumulate the energy balls or points for upgrades not to mention the hit on scores. It’s a catch-22 of Caster, which makes for some interesting choices. I suggest practicing with your weapon as much as possible because aiming can be difficult. Also, by using the Blaster weapon, you can take away enough of the ground to reach underground water, lava, acid, and that can kill plenty of enemies as long as you don’t kill yourself in the process.

While some will knock Caster for having only 15 levels, I think that’s missing the point of what a terrifically balanced and well-designed game this is. The dev has mentioned adding additional missions in the future, but what’s there now is already pretty great. I can only imagine what he would’ve done if he had a bigger development team.

Check out my impressions at TouchArcade http://toucharcade.com/2009/05/02/caster-third-person-shooter-arrives-with-lite-version/

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