Akka Arrh Review – PlayStation 4/5 and PSVR2

Originally reviewed March 4, 2023

Talk about a blast from the past.   I’ve started playing Llamasoft games back in the 80’s shortly after Jeff Minter founded the company, and with 30 titles available across 20 platforms chances are you may have too and don’t even know it.   There is an easily recognizable style about Jeff’s games that hearken back to the early glory days of arcades, and Akka Arrh is no exception with its stylized visuals that combine flashing bright colors, fantastic music, and some of the most intense geometric based gameplay since Geometry Wars.

This arcade shooter is nearly impossible to explain in words, so please check out my live gameplay video to see this masterpiece in action.  Based on a rare Atari arcade prototype, Akka Arrh is laid out as a series of 50 stages that can be tackled in a linear fashion, or you can go back to previously completed stages and replay to increase your score.  The game color codes your stage scores red or green to show if you did better or worse than your previous best.  Much like Tempest, you can start your run at later stages and receive an initial completion bonus; a nice time saver when those earlier levels become “too easy”.

Gameplay is pretty standard stuff with minimal controls that will require maximum strategy, some fast reflexes, and a bit of luck.  The entire premise of Akka Arrh is built on chaos theory – I could almost hear Jeff Goldblum narrating while I played.  You have one fire button that can be tapped to drop a bomb under the targeting cursor you move with the stick.  Each bomb sends out a shockwave that will hopefully envelop at least one enemy creating a secondary blast and subsequent shockwave, so you end up with what looks like a large pond with all these splashes and ripples extending away from the blast.  The goal is to clear each stage using as few shots as possible by creating these epic explosion chains, and they can get pretty massive.  I was able to clear one stage with only three bombs.  It’s all about timing, placement, and a whole lot of luck because you never know where the next enemies are coming from.

Some enemies are impervious to your bombs and must be destroyed with your rapid-fire secondary weapon, turning the game into a bit of an Asteroids event.  There are a few underlying rules to the game that will influence how you play.  Bombs are unlimited but dropping one resets your combo counter, so for really high scores you need really long explosion chains.  Bullets are replenished by dropping bombs and will run out, so you always need to keep ammo handy when those bomb-resistant enemies show up.

Akka Arrh is constantly evolving over its 50-stage run, with new enemies and level designs that actual influence your gameplay.  Levels will get sectioned out into multiple zones, and bomb splash damage is confined to the zone where the bomb detonated, so now you get to worry about which zone an enemy was in and where it might be going.  It’s like playing two or three stages that are overlapped or stacked on each other.  Additionally, enemies can overwhelm your turret position forcing you to switch to a more intimate close-range combat as you head “downstairs” to protect your pods.  It’s a cool transition effect like spiraling down the drain.  Crazy stuff!

Akka Arrh definitely nails the flavor of vintage arcade games.  The colorful flashing graphics and easily recognizable geometric shapes brought back fond memories of Tempest, Robotron, and many other similar games.  If a game ever needed that Epilepsy warning at the beginning, this is it, and thankfully those potentially annoying effects can be disabled for sensitive gamers.  Akka Arrh is perfect for gamers of all ages.  Veterans will appreciate the retro callbacks while younger gamers will appreciate the great music, psychedelic visuals, and intense gameplay; a perfect tribute to classic arcade shooters.  If you’re a fan of Jeff Minter or Llamasoft then you won’t want to miss what is arguably one of his best games to date.

March 7, 2024 Update

Today, the native PS5 version of Akka Arrh released, offering updated visuals and a new VR mode for the PSVR2.  This new immersive take on the game is just too cool for words, so check out our new VR gameplay video for all the crazy action.  I even get a new high score!


Author: Mark Smith
I've been an avid gamer since I stumbled upon ZORK running in my local Radio Shack in 1980. Ten years later I was working for Sierra Online. Since then I've owned nearly every game system and most of the games to go with them. Not sure if 40+ years of gaming qualifies me to write reviews, but I do it anyway.

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