Thursday, August 7, 2014

Completionist 2014: Astebreed

Wow. That didn't take long. I finished one game from the Humble Weekly Bundle Japan Edition. I was a little afraid to tackle this one, because it was a SHMUP. I am just... Just aweful at SHMUPS. But this was was pretty fun. Its a little on the short side, but most SHMUPs are. Astebreed does show what kind of quality you can find in the Japanese doujin(indie) game scene. Well, this and visual novels. But I feel this is better.

First off, the plot just kinda drops you in there. Who is this guy? Are those voices his daughters? Why are his daughters big fucking robots? Many questions will be asked. And its your job as the outside party to kinda piece together what the fuck is going on. So basically, aliens invade earth and are being big jerks about it. They kidnap a town, turn some bad ass pilot's daughters into mech suits, and he tries to get him back with his team, team dies, he dies, one daughter robot suit thing rescues him, the other stays behind for some reason, guy goes back to earth, gives suit to some kid who can somehow pilot said suit, blah blah blah world saved. The story really isn't anything spectacular. If you watch anime, all of the elements in the story are horrendously predictable. That's not to say its bad, but they do a really bad job of giving backstory. I guess a SHMUP isn't exactly the best story telling game medium around.

So, like all modern Bullet-hell SHMUPs, Astebreed comes with some tools to make the bullet hell less... Hell-ly? You don't die instantly when you take a hit, you instead take shield damage. This shield recharges over time and can take a few hits depending on the strength of the shot being fired at you. You have a sword that can destroy most bullet types. You also have a homing shot that can acquire targets in two fashions. You know what, they are actually more like fin funnels from gundam than actual shots but they look like glowing balls that shoot more glowing balls. Fuck it, I'm calling them funnels. You can either target all enemies around you in a circle, or you can pick a cone of fire. The cone allows multiple funnels to lock onto a specific target very quickly, causing them to swarm around and maximize damage on a single target. You also have a special gauge that recharges over time, but can be boosted by using your sword to destroy projectiles. The special attack has two variations. The default is when you have no targets locked on by the funnels. This one causes an AOE blast followed by a temporary invulnerability shield around you. The other mode occurs when you have an enemy locked on with a funnel. Depending on how many funnels, your mech will do a blitz dash towards the enemy and generally give them a bad time. The special gauge recharge mechanic works well in combination with the bullet hell to always provide you with a way of dealing with a billion objects on the screen at one time.

The game is split into seven chapters. The first chapter, technically its chapter zero, is a prologue that introduces you to the game and gives a VERY brief tutorial. After that, each chapter is a pretty standard, swarm of unrelenting waves of bullet shits then a boss. There is quite a bit of banter from the characters, and its voice acted in Japanese. I enjoy this, but if you don't speak Japanese, you won't have the time to really take your eyes off the action to read the subtitles in the bottom corner. Chapters are fairly short in length. I'd say each one runs around five to six minutes, and you can spend a bit of time on the boss if you decide to play it more defensive.

Hmmm. This is getting a bit long. Didn't intend to write a goddamn review for this thing. All in all, I enjoyed the game. I still don't really like bullet-hell SHMUPs, so if you don't like that, this game isn't going to really change your mind there. Mechanics were pretty solid. Story could have been told a little better, but I get that the gameplay really doesn't lend itself to evolving plot. Still, was a nice fun story. Glad I finished it. Another game down.

>SCORE = -62


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