It’s been a long time coming. First released as an Xbox One exclusive last year, veteran Japanese shmup studio MOSS have been released from whatever contractual obligation that bound them, and have now brought the latest, biggest and boldest game in the 25-year-old Raiden series to multiple systems – including PC – in the form of Raiden V: Director’s Cut [official site].
While almost comically intimidating in screenshots, the Raiden games aren’t as cruel as they may seem at first blush. Contrary to the marketing blurb, these aren’t Bullet Hell games. While there are a lot of bullets being fired, they tend to be of the practical and deadly variety best evaded with a quick zip to the side, as opposed to the complex fireworks displays of the Touhou series and similar which demand careful planning and slow, precision movement to navigate a single-pixel hitbox through.
Likewise, the hellaciously complex HUD is mostly for show – ideal for spectating players or watching other player’s replays (or re-watching your own) later, but not really intended for the player’s sake. The player’s sole focus will be on the central gameplay window, with the peripheries being filled with narrative fluff, pointless techno-silliness (like a radar panel) and score-tracking excess including a real-time graph of your current score as charted against global top players and your own personal best.
The absurd score-graphing detail should hint as to who this game is made for. While Raiden V has more story than previous games in the franchise (fully dubbed for this release) and offers infinite continues for learning the ropes, this is a game squarely aimed at hardcore score-chasers, designed to be replayed over and over in search of obscure bonuses, clearing bosses in record time or exploring new routes.