Vampire Survivors really helped to carve out a new genre. It’s sudden and intense popularity helped breed other games looking to capture that same level of addictiveness but with their own twist. Whilst some have been derivative, many have offered their own unique spin to stop them from feeling like copycats.
The latest in this line is Void Scrappers, whose similar initials to Vampire Survivors may or may not be coincidental, offers the formula set in the confines of space.
Is the game out of this world, or just a big pile of scrap?
Many thanks to 8BitSkull for the review code.
SHOOTING THEM ALL UP
For those unfamiliar with the genre, ‘reverse bullet hell’ flips the idea of a shmup on its head. Instead of you avoiding a screen full of bullets, you’re the one filling the screen with bullets as you face a continual onslaught of enemies that gets more and more overwhelming as time goes on. You start off with a simple attack, but as you level up you will be given a choice of upgrades to make you even stronger. The arms race between the ever-increasing enemy numbers as they home in on your position and your expanding arsenal is where the tension lies. The question is how long will you survive, for it is inevitable that you’ll eventually fall.
Void Scrappers puts you in the shoes of a smuggler. There are seven smugglers hanging around the bar that you can choose from, but at the start you’ll only have access to Murphy. He gets a boost to his scrap gain, damage, and projectile cool down, making him a pretty solid character to start with. Other characters are unlocked by performing certain actions in a run to choose from in total, but none are particularly hard to achieve if you put your mind to it. Whilst some of these characters may be better than others, there’s a nice variety that makes each one feel unique. My particular favourite proved to be Pyrek, who specialises in explosives. With his passive ability that causes a damage over time effect with every explosion, you’ll be causing some major damage.
Of course, Pyrek is only really good if you specialise in explosives. There are a variety to choose from that includes short range mortars, random explosions, and even a screen filling nuke that causes way less damage than you’d expect from a nuke. If blowing stuff up isn’t your bag, then you can pursue one of the other weapon types instead; there are four in total to choose from: the aforementioned explosives, as well as projectiles, lasers, and orbitals. The latter consists of sawblades that revolve around your ship at various distances, which are oddly satisfying to use. New weapons are obtained every time you kill a boss character, and you get to pick between a choice of three. Whilst you can mix and match these weapon types as you please, it’s always best to specialise in one type as that will make your ancillary upgrades even more effective. In addition, gaining multiple of the same weapon type will make that weapon stronger and eventually even result in it gaining an ultimate form for extra utility.
Upgrades, as mentioned earlier, are offered to you upon levelling up and in this game that takes the form of collecting the scrap metal dropped by enemy ships. After collecting enough to fill the bar at the top of the screen, you can select one of three upgrades to give yourself an offensive or defensive boost. Weapon damage, speed, cooldown, and the like are all pretty bog standard (but also essential too!), but the fun lies in a lot of the passive abilities. Having a boss automatically die when below a certain health is always nice, but my favourite turns your projectiles into boomerangs. This relatively simple upgrade can get ridiculous with a projectile build, since the bullets will be dancing around the screen in beautiful harmony as you lay into the enemy hordes.
It’s a really addictive game that will enthrall you for hours at a cheap price; not only because of the gameplay loop, but because there’s always stuff to unlock. Aside from main characters, you can also unlock new weapons and abilities that will be offered to you in future runs, as well as using points earned to activate some permanant upgrades for your pilots.
If you worry that this will make the game too easy, then don’t worry. Reaching the ‘final boss’ of the game merely requires you to achieve threat level 40 or so, which is very doable even at the very start of the game. However, beyond the final boss is where things ramp up and things get wild. If your goal is to get as far as possible, you’ll need all the help you can get!
There’s very little to complain about with the game, especially with the low asking price. Sure, being in space means that all the levels basically look the same, and it would be nice to have some additional weapon types available, but there’s certainly enough here to keep you invested. Perhaps the developer will add some more pilots and weapons/upgrades down the line to extend the game’s longevity, but regardless this game is a must for any fan of the genre.
Void Scrappers is probably the best game in the reverse bullet hell genre that I’ve played so far, and that includes Vampire Survivors. Its space theme fits the genre perfectly, and the weapon and upgrade system allows the game to be easy enough for a relaxing experience, yet tough enough to challenge hardened gamers as at the higher waves. For just €3.99, this really is an essential purchase.
So it’s good? 😆
Yes! Surprisingly so! I expected it to be a simple clone, but it’s actually great in its own right!