Posted: January 29, 2014
This game shows a great deal of promise and has some interesting mechanics that could potentially provide a nice change of pace compared to other games in the genre.
The problem, at least in its current state (review written at launch) is that it really doesn't stand up well in comparison to obvious influences like Binding of Isaac. I will list some of the issues I have with the game at launch, some may sound minor but have a very real impact on the way the game is played.
-- movement speed --
The starting character (there may be others to unlock) is woefully sluggish. This slow movement combined with much-quicker-than-you enemy projectiles and othewrwise acceptable mechanics like your momentum affecting your own projectiles can lead to frustrating and needlessly tiresome encounters.
There are a number of perks available at level up that profess to increase movement speed, these are either completely incorrect in their supposed effect or the gains are far too minimal as even after taking more than one such perk there is never any noticable increase in your movement speed.
The interesting thing is the roll mechanic which acts as a little boost to evade enemies, the inclusion of which would have been unnecessary if the overall movement wasn't so awful. What I'm curious about is whether the roll was added to compensate for the overly slow base movement speed or whether the base movement speed was deliberately made that slow so as to make the planned roll mechanic relevant and useful.
-- hitboxes / collision detection --
The hitboxes on both the player character and some enemies is, in my opinion, a little off. I suppose the issue here is that the hitbox on the player character is a little too big, a hit is registered even though your character sprite wasn't contacted by the projectile, environmental effect, etc etc. It's true that with continued play you would probably adapt to this slightly too big hit box and learn to compensate but you shouldn't have to, a game like this needs a reliable, accurate and finely tuned hit detection system.
In contrast, enemy hit boxes seem, at times, bafflingly arbitrary and with zero reference to their character sprites. More than once I've seen a projectile pass straight though an enemy without registering a hit, only for the next projectile on the same trajectory to instead register a successful hit. Again, this type of game thrives on tight, accurate hit detection, which at present, just isnt here.
A lesser issue is with collision detection on environmental objects. This could well be tied to the above issue of your slightly oversized hit box but occasionally you do get stuck on environmental objects, even though it looks as though there is room enough to get by.
-- pacing --
This is more of a personal one but I really feel the pacing of the game needs to be addressed, both in terms of character progression and item acquisition. In short, leveling up seems to take a little too long. Combined with the...underwhelming, shall we say, perks that you get on level up, this makes the whole level system seem honestly quite redundant. I never once found myself pleased, excited or glad to have levelled up, it just doesn't feel like much of a reward.
Item acquisition is probably a bigger issue, more specifically WHEN you get items. This game lists Binding of Isaac as one influencing game and it really shows. In Isaac however, there is a reliable and reasonable pacing to item acquisition. By and large each floor has one item room and an item from the boss room. There's no guarantee either one will be any good but at least there are reliably (keys allowing), AT LEAST two items per floor.
This game does not have item rooms on each floor nor does it provide items as rewards after boss fights. In fact your most reliable source of items are the occasional mini-boss enemies (like elites from Diablo). These enemies are fairly few and far between however, you MIGHT find one per floor and some floors don't have any by design. This means you end up with very few items and the majority of itemsa you do find are unremarkable. I'm being quite generous when I say unremarkable by the way.
I should note you can get items from vending machines but most are limited use and almost all are more than you can afford given the relative scarcity of money.
All in all, despite how critical you may feel I've been, I really do think this game has potential and there are some things to enjoy here but there are more things that I feel need to be addressed by the developer before this game can really be recommended.
In short, if you want to play an enjoyable but challanging twin stick shooter with tight controls and good pacing, play Binding of Isaac. It's pretty much all this game aspires to be and is considerably cheaper to boot.