Published by Sometimes You, I, AI is a vertical shooter with a leveling mechanic. Although not as balanced as Aircraft Evolution, this old school action game is fluid and rewards skilled players.
Playing as a self-aware AI, the first stage has an electric spark escaping from a space station prison and overtaking a space craft. In order to reach freedom, twenty stages filled with numerous enemies and giant bosses stand between you and the game ending star gate. The main attraction comes from the vast leveling system. Each defeated enemy drops blue orbs which act as currency. Collect enough and the player can increase the offensive and defensive capabilities of the star fighter. Unfortunately, grinding slows the pacing to a crawl even in the beginning stages. Initially armed with a peashooter and no defensive shields, the player can easily die in the first couple stages. Even replaying each stage a few times to earn enhanced defenses can still result in one-hit kills, forcing a full restart. A little grinding can be excusable but the extremely high cost to increase just a single feature can take several replays, assuming you have the skill to even complete stages without getting hit and by defeating all enemies.
Gameplay is fluid but also slower paced. This is not a bullet hell as enemies usually approach in small packs and don’t rely on sheer numbers to outgun the player, usually. Visually, the entire presentation is rather dark, this is space after all, but the background can easily merge with the interactive foreground. The blue stars in the background layer look exactly like the blue orbs that enemies drop, for example, making twitch judgement calls difficult. There is also no soundtrack which makes flying in space and shooting alien vessels a little strange and empty.
If you don’t mind grinding for hours by replaying stages to increase that one attribute you need to advance to the next stage, I, AI isn’t a terrible shooter. It is just a shame that the player needs to grind Level 2 repeatedly to unlock a new enhancement or two. The foundation is there but the pacing is not.