Also available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows, and arcade
Caladrius is a shmup originally released on the Xbox 360 in 2013. A few months later, it was ported to arcades under the name Caladrius AC. A year after that, it saw a PlayStation 3 port with the title Caladrius Blaze. Here we are, almost exactly two years later, and its glorious PlayStation 4 port has arrived. IIRC it's available worldwide digitally, but I think only Japan and Korea got physical releases (I have the disc with Korean and English subtitles).
I've only played the story mode for Caladrius, but I have finished it with all eight characters. The common theme throughout all eight characters is that the king went a bit crazy with desire for power (physical power, not political) after failing to protect his son and one of his wives and uses a forbidden tome of black magic to bind human souls to machines, thereby making immensely powerful weapons. Each of the eight characters has his or her own reasons for opposing the king's plans. One of the things that I really appreciated about this game was that, unlike a lot of shmups, each character really does feel and control distinctly, and no two characters' playthroughs feel the same even if you're going through the same levels with the same enemy attack patterns.
Visually, you can tell that it's just a port of a 360/PS3 game, but because of that, it runs VERY smoothly with little to no slowdown. Even with being a port of a last gen game, though, it still looks fantastic. It's mainly just the environment textures that you can tell are a little dated if you look closely. In addition to your standard weapon (which you can hold X to fire; no need to wear yourself out mashing the button millions of times), you have three special weapons that vary from character to character. Typically, one of these will be defensive and destroy incoming shots, one will be a more wide ranged offensive weapon that deals less damage but over a huge area, and one will be a ridiculously powerful but concentrated attack. Each of these special weapons can be fired for extended periods the same way that your standard weapon can, but they've got an energy gauge measured by percentage. This does, however, refill over time. The bosses are (for the most part) a breeze if you effectively utilize these special weapons.
The thing that I think is particularly worth noting above all else is how extremely approachable this game is. There are six difficulty settings - Practice, Very Easy, Easy, Normal, Hard, and Very Hard - so that everyone from greenest of shmup noobs to most ragged of shmup veterans will be able to play at an appropriate difficulty level. Because I'm typically not that great at shmups, I played through on Very Easy with my first character, Easy for the next two or three, and Normal for the rest (since, at least with the story mode, difficulty has no impact on trophies as long as you don't pick Practice).
Speaking of story mode, there are three "versions" you can play. Original Mode is a straight port of the 360 original with 5 stages. Arcade Mode is the arcade version with 5 stages plus 2 extra missions that have no real story connection and are purely for points. Evolution Mode has the 5 stages of the original, the two missions of the arcade version, plus a sixth stage. I played through all of them but felt that - from a narrative perspective - they were all about the same, so most of my playthroughs were done on Original Mode. When I replay on harder difficulties to challenge myself later, though, I'll probably stick to Evolution.
All in all, this is a GREAT shmup that everyone with a PS4, PS3, 360, or PC needs to pick up. I think it's only like $20 in the PlayStation Store (don't quote me on that), and its fantastic. Oh, and there's local multiplayer and global leaderboards. Replay value galore.
My Rating - 5 Neps
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.