Risk System – Review
Follow Genre: Arcade Game, Shoot-em-up
Developer: Newt Industries
Publisher: Newt Industries
Platform: Switch, PC, Xbox One
Tested on: Switch

Risk System – Review

Site Score
Good: A unique twist on a tried and true gameplay genre
Bad: Story makes little sense
User Score
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)

If you haven’t heard of Newt Industries’ debut title Risk System, then you’re not the only one. The game debuted on PC two years ago, but flew under many gamers’ radars. The Xbox One port, which was released in March, also arrived with little fanfare. Perhaps the Switch port, which was released last month, will finally give the game its chance to shine. Is Risk System a hidden gem or is adding this game to your library a risk not worth taking?


Risk System introduces us to our protagonist, Alys, through fairly simple but fully voiced cutscenes that amount to little more than just talking heads. Alys is an ace pilot, tasked with saving the world. From what, you ask? Well, apparently, a mind-controlling parasite has been making its way through society, but Alys turns out to be immune to it. The same can’t be said about her former comrades-in-arms, who have fallen under the control of the parasite. As you’d expect, these former allies end up being the bosses that Alys will have to defeat if she wants the world to return to a parasite-free state. The game does delve into how this parasite came to infect humanity through its opening blurb, hinting at a cautionary tale about how we’re creating our own downfall through abusing technology. It’s not exactly Shakespeare, and if you overthink some of the story content, you’ll realize that it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but in all honesty, it’s fine for what it attempts to be.


The majority of Risk System’s visuals are distinctly retro-styled, with character portraits and ships depicted using pixelated sprites. These are juxtaposed against more detailed-looking backgrounds and effects, such as the massive explosions that fill the screen when an enemy ship blows up. The result is something that looks both retro and modern at the same time. The game’s overall aesthetics work surprisingly well, although the on-screen flashes can be a bit distracting. The game runs at a smooth 60 FPS as well, even when there is a lot of on-screen action going on. We would’ve perhaps preferred less simplistic designs for the ships, but that’s only a minor gripe, and Risk System looks great for what it wants to be. A word of warning though: if you’re suffering from epilepsy, you should steer clear of Risk System. Newt Industries is aware of this, and the game displays a warning whenever you boot it up.


As mentioned above, the cutscenes that bookmark the stages are fully voiced, and we really liked the performances here, as they added some depth to the relationships between Alys and her former allies. We also enjoyed the chemistry between our protagonist and Freyna, the operator that is tasked with briefing Alys. The ambient sound effects that underline the on-screen action are great as well, but the music falls a bit flat and is unremarkable and ultimately forgettable.


At first glance, Risk System resembles a traditional side-scrolling shooter in the same vein as the R-Type games. For the most part, this is true, although Newt Industries has applied a few twists to the tried-and-true formula that defines the genre. The defining feature here is the risk and reward system that Risk System derived its title from. On paper, it’s a simple but ingenious mechanic: by moving towards enemy fire, you “graze” opposing bullets, which fills up a bar. Once said bar is filled up, you’ll be given a Barrier Breaker, which allows you to completely clear the screen of normal enemies or do massive damage to a boss.

The risk lies in the fact that your own ship isn’t invulnerable of course, and filling up your bar means putting your ship at risk of taking massive damage. It’s possible to recover from mistakes by using your Barrier Breaker at the right time, which isn’t necessarily when you’re faced with a massive amount of enemies -although that *would* be a good time- but also when you’re in dire need of healing. When you blow up non-boss enemies with your Barrier Breaker, they’ll drop health canisters, allowing you to recover from a dire situation.

It’s a delicate balance that you’ll have to learn to master if you want to stand any sort of chance of making it through Risk System’s six stages. Thankfully, the game allows you to focus on min-maxing your way through the stages. You won’t have to bother with firing your ship’s guns, for example, as the game does that automatically -and continuously- for you, meaning that all you have to think about is navigating through the armada of ships that lie between you and the stage boss. Risk System’s controls are fairly standard: the left stick allows you to move, Y and B let you dodge and the A button is used to unleash your Barrier Breaker once your bar is filled up; though you’re best off using that at the right time rather than spamming it. We should also point out that the controls described above are the “standard” scheme, but that there is a high degree of customizability here, allowing you to adjust the controls to your liking.

Risk System is a fairly short game, with only six stages, but these are expertly designed and a joy to play if you’re a fan of the genre. The key to beating these is in memorizing enemy attack patterns, and there’s going to be a lot of trial and error involved if you intend to beat every stage. However, the gauntlet you’re flying into feels carefully constructed, and although Risk System isn’t a simple game, it’s also balanced and never feels unfair. If you manage to reach a boss battle and then die during it, you won’t even have to completely restart the stage but you can pick up right back at the start of that fight.

It all adds up to an unconventional shmup with a surprisingly effective concept. There are no frills or unnecessary gimmicks here. Newt Industries employs a “less-is-more” philosophy here, and what you’re getting is a game that is brilliant in its simplicity, offering solid and fun action with stages that are hard to master. Risk System scratches that “one more try” itch, and is one of the few games that successfully turn a few minutes into a couple of hours, leaving you wondering where all that time went when you finally manage to take down that stage boss.


Although Risk System falls a little flat when it comes to its story, the gameplay is solid and fun. Newt Industries managed to infuse a breath of fresh air into a genre that was starting to feel somewhat stale, making for a title that genre fans should add to their library without question. Even if you’re not necessarily a fan of the genre, you’ll find there is plenty of fun to be had here.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Risk System - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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  1. […] Xbox One port and then just last month released a Switch port too, that we ourselves reviewed right here. And now Playstation players are up next it seems, with the developer announcing their debut game […]

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