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CYGNI: All Guns Blazing preview – Incredible style, but lacking substance

Home » Previews » CYGNI: All Guns Blazing preview – Incredible style, but lacking substance

When developing CYGNI: All Guns Blazing, it’s clear that KeelWorks has aimed to truly make it an audiovisual marvel. It has achieved it, too, making this vertical-scrolling shooter stand out from the crowd. But unfortunately it comes at a cost, and an important one at that: readability.

You see, when there are countless enemies flying about the screen, launching bullet and laser attacks you, as well as explosions and other visual eye-candy, it can be hard to make out exactly what’s going on, and where you’re safe to move to. In fact, there are sometimes so many bullets on the screen that it feels like you have to simply eat damage. For a game of this type, that’s not ideal.

But from our short time playing CYGNI: All Guns Blazing so far, that’s perhaps the least of our issues with it. And needless to say, it’s left us a bit disappointed. The idea of a truly next-gen shoot ’em up excites us, but there are numerous gameplay and technical issues here that are unfortunately leaving us feeling cold on the whole affair.

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Image: KeelWorks

For a start, its missions are simply too long. Shoot ’em ups are great for offering short blasts of fast and frantic action, but here you can be blasting away for over 15 minutes and still not have completed a mission, despite facing off against numerous bosses. And so, it means if you die, you’ve got to play through long segments again just to brush up your skills on a particularly tricky part.

Related: The best twin-stick shooters on Xbox

Failure of a mission also means that you don’t any valuable resources that are required to power up and customise your ship, leaving you without a sense of progression. Ultimately, instead of the seven or so missions that CYGNI: All Guns Blazing currently offers, you get the feeling that each could have been cut into two or three missions each, making it much more accessible and rewarding.

Performance is another issue. With CYGNI: All Guns Blazing looking so good and having so many enemies on screen at once, it’s very demanding on your hardware. Being the type of game where blistering and consistent performance is ideal, that causes some issues. With it essentially becoming a slideshow at times, we ended up dropping down to the lowest visual preset (called Steam Deck mode) and even that wasn’t great on a gaming laptop with specs far in excess of a Steam Deck.

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Image: KeelWorks

There are smaller issues too, such as some enemies feeling too much like bullet sponges which slows things down somewhat, and it’s a shame, because CYGNI: All Guns Blazing does have some good ideas as well as being pretty to look at. We like that you can angle your shots with the right-stick, for example, giving it a twin-stick shooter element. We also like that you can choose to direct power between your guns and your shields, though in the heat of combat doing so can be a bit fiddly.

Overall then, while we’ve been left a little disappointed by what we’ve played of CYGNI: All Guns Blazing, we imagine some will fall in love with it. It’s just a shame that, in pursuit of making an impressive kaleidoscope of sight and sound, KeelWorks has somehow forgotten what simply makes a great shoot ’em up. Overly long missions, cluttered screens and fiddly mechanics aren’t all that appealing.

CYGNI: All Guns Blazing launches 6th August on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.

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