Yar's Revenge is quite the reboot. It's a refreshed take on the characters and settings of the original Yars' Revenge, a somewhat abstract Atari 2600 game released 30 years ago. Note the placement of the apostrophes in those titles - the original game was about a race of space insects, the Yars, fighting against a swarm of their predators, the Qotile. In the new game, you play the last living Yar, a young female warrior again battling the Qotile hordes that want her dead.
For better or worse, the gameplay is a departure from the 2D psuedo-shoot-'em-up style of the original. Now, it's a deliberate clone of the Panzer Dragoon games and Sin & Punishment 2, where you primarily move a reticule and fire weapons as your character flies along a set path. The surreal stages go from organic landscapes to futuristic industrial complexes, and the trance-y music and slick menus help enhance the atmosphere.
Each level is several minutes long, but Killspace Entertainment seems to be stretching itself a little thin nonetheless. While the environments look very nice, very little changes as you fly through - something that even the old Panzer Dragoon games consistently nailed. Eventually, the backgrounds just blend together and feel like they're looping, cookie-cutter sections, not to mention that you're always fighting the same four or five enemy types in predictable wave patterns.
I didn't have many problems playing through Yar's Revenge the first time through. At the same time, the stages were just too long and uneventful to really tempt me to replay much of the game in its co-op or challenge modes – where you're given certain limits in your powers – and the majority of the achievements pertain to things like surviving a stage without dying, or killing 1,000 enemies with your missiles.
If the free demo intrigues you, you'll probably have a good time going through the rest of the game. Re-imagining something as simple as an Atari 2600 game makes it pretty easy to be creative, and the new Yar's Revenge is definitely that. But while it has the looks, and is a decent clone of games like Panzer Dragoon, it needed a little more attention to be able to match them.