Note: I originally wrote this back on Dec 31, 2020, before I had this blog up. I’ll probably be counting it as a 2021 game rather than a 2020 game. Also, I wasn’t originally intending on publishing this anywhere, so it’s a little messier than some of my other work. Bear with me if you have any interest in this game, because I think I’ve highlighted some important things for you to consider before picking it up – though I definitely think it’s worth checking out if you’ve got it waiting in your backlog!
This game is really frustrating because of how divisive the different parts of it are to me. I absolutely love the premise, the music, and the style it has. Beyond that, I love how Awe Interactive came up with a pretty unexplored idea and went hard on it. However, there are so many problems that hit me in the face every time I’m playing and having a good time that bring it all the way back down from an awesome experience to just an “OK” one.
Let’s rewind for a moment and talk about some of the good stuff:
- The gunplay – Pretty much all of the guns in the game are really interesting to use and fun in their own way. The starter gun is a bit blegh, but it doesn’t take too long before you’ll be able to consistently swap it out for something better on the first floor, so that’s not a big deal. I really like how all of the different guns seem to have strong upsides and downsides (except maybe the minigun which just seems ridiculously OP, but whatever) – sure, weapons like the explosives launcher are super great against bosses, but you’ll have a rough time clearing rooms full of small trash enemies with those, and vice versa with weapons that are easy to aim with but do little damage.
- The music – It’s not the best music I’ve ever heard, certainly, but I think the tracks are adequate. I liked them a lot at first, but they’re a little on the basic side, which isn’t the end of the world, but there also just aren’t enough of them. I feel like I’m constantly listening to the same tracks, which is fine for a while, but eventually starts to wear on you a bit.
- Some of the pickups – There are some really satisfying items and abilities in this game, things that make you feel absolutely awesome, particularly when you get certain combinations. I love when things seem to line up “just right” to get this insanely powerful combination that is a blast (sometimes literally) to use.
- The aesthetic – I actually really like the unique aesthetic this game has. It looks pretty nice, and the particle effects and animations in particular are pretty good.
And now, unfortunately, for the bad:
- The aesthetic – As much as I enjoy the bold, flashy style this game has, it’s also a minor but consistent source of frustration. Everything (or almost everything) having the same hue applied over it makes it really easy to lose track of certain enemies, miss items on the ground, not notice certain opportunities (ie power up spots), etc. There are some settings you can adjust to get rid of the overwhelming hue, but the game just looks wrong without it.
- The items – Some of the items are really cool and have interesting effects, like the cleave effect on the “storm” item that causes your attacks to also damage enemies nearby the one you hit. This is great for clearing rooms with a lot of enemies and combos really well with certain weapons. However, there are also lots of items that seem bad, repetitive, or mediocre. For instance, what is the point of the items that let you “fly”? There’s almost never been a place I couldn’t get to with the standard jumping and dashing, and the “flight” is actually just limitless stacking jumps, so you have to keep hammering the space bar while doing everything else in order to “fly”. There are many other examples.
- Lack of explanation – BPM does a horrible job of explaining anything to you. I’m actually a big fan of games that don’t hold your hand, but many of the item descriptions are just useless and don’t even explain what the item actually does. For instance, there are multiple items that multiply your speed, but some of them don’t stack together, and the game doesn’t tell you that. Another example is the Midgard Bracelet, which just says “goodness” but has the effect of increasing all of your stats by 1 and giving you an additional 25HP, as well as increasing all stats again by 1 with each subsequent floor. These are things that should be clearly explained somewhere in the game.
- There’s not enough content, and the game is too easy – I beat the game for the first time after playing for about five or six hours. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every enemy there is to see by now and most of the weapons/items/abilities.
- One of the things all the best roguelite games have is a meaningful metaprogression system wherein you get new weapons, new items, new enemies, etc to play with on future runs. This game doesn’t have that. There are some ways that you can progress the world across multiple runs (ie by upgrading shops by buying enough stuff from them over time) which is cool, but it could really do with more weapon/item unlocks or something to make dying not suck as hard.
- Strange/poor design decisions – Unlocking default abilities for characters is locked behind beating the game on easy and unlocking character ultimates is locked behind beating the game on hard. It’s cool that you add a new aspect to the game after doing both of those things, but why would you gate starting abilities and ultimates behind that specifically? These are things that strictly make the game easier and significantly more fun (because you have more options for dealing with encounters beyond just shooting), and it doesn’t make sense to gate that content off for new players. It especially doesn’t make sense with the ultimates because I’d assume that most people who beat the game on hard are probably approaching close to being done with the game, so why do they even care that they now start with an ultimate?
- Hard mode isn’t fun, it’s tedious – I am 99% sure that hard mode makes coins spawn far less frequently, which is incredibly tedious because it means you will have a hard time buying guns, items, etc – which makes it harder I guess, but also makes the game way less fun to play.
- Chests are locked and require a key to open – I’m ok with this to some extent, but it’s not fun to get access to like 5 chests on a floor and then not be able to open most or all of them because you got unlucky.
All in all, this is a game that I had a good time with for a few hours but sadly won’t be continuing with. I want so badly to love this game because of how cool the premise is and how good the gunplay is, but there are so many flaws (even more than what I mentioned) that bring the experience way down for me and drastically reduce the fun I can have with it. I don’t think this game is really worth full price for most people, but may be worth getting on sale. That said, I think the roguelite aspects of this game are basic at best and there are a lot of better options out there if you’re looking for a fun roguelite experience.