From the archives of the "Ark": "Day 10th - the search for a laser printer continues. On the way to the ship with the required equipment, the X-75 client, dying of starvation, moored to the “Eugene” dreadnought. Unfortunately, instead of eating, he discovered a mutant breeding ground and an army of pirates. Note in the margin: give the next prisoner more ammo. And an extra dry bag. ”
Aces in the sleeve
As soon as you find yourself on the Void Bastards page on Steam, the hand involuntarily reaches for the credit card. Indie-novelty lures juicy comic picture and intriguing annotation. A revolutionary strategic shooter? From people who had a hand in System Shock 2 and BioShock? "Forget everything you know about first-person shooters!" - convinces trailer voice of the narrator, a friend of The Stanley Parable.
Sunset, admittedly, the most powerful - so many hooks, so many reasons to buy. But is there anything in the creation of Blue Manchu besides the flowery wrapper and references to the hits of past years?
Void Bastards tells of the misadventures of the prison transporter "Ark." On the way to places, not so remote the ship falls into the Sargasso Nebula - a kind of Bermuda triangle of universal scale. Things instantly take a nasty turn.
The crew perishes under the influence of ominous radiation, the FTL-engine fails, and around only dozens of helplessly drifting ships, space whales and pirates armed to the teeth. The situation, to put it mildly, is bad, and there is absolutely no place to wait for help.
Fortunately, the onboard AI has a couple of ideas for getting out of a desperate situation.
The action plan is obvious: the computer randomly selects one of the prisoners, and for some time he becomes the “last hope” of the stalled cruiser. A hero in an orange jumpsuit is handed a weapon, a set of cartridges and a couple of sandwiches, after which he is sent to brush through the nebula in search of salvation. Die - do not worry, send another. Do prisoners have a choice?
The essence of star odyssey is extremely simple: gamers need to explore the ships, fight with terrible monsters, fill their pockets with pieces of iron, and then, sitting in a cozy shuttle, make useful equipment.
Immediately upset the fans of the classics: despite the mention of System Shock above, it makes the novelty only a first-person view and a similar entourage with a legend. The rest of the works are strikingly different. After all, Blue Manchu made a typical roguelike rather than a “strategic shooter”. The signs are obvious: a plot for a tick, procedurally generated locations, the lack of quick save, cruel fines for death. Right FTL: Faster Than Light, unless you take up arms at times more often. Yes, and the highlight is it's own.
The most curious finding is related to the prisoners of the Ark. They are not just idols, but characters with unique characteristics that directly affect the gameplay. Smokers involuntarily cough, attracting the attention of opponents. Crazy hear voices. Awkward rokhly constantly drop objects, and dwarfs suffer from short stature. Say, nonsense?
Try to get the cartridges from the upper shelves when the hero is barely higher than the stool.
Thanks to such a bright find, the loss of a character is not perceived as acutely as in other bagels. On the contrary, untimely death only stirs interest in what is happening. Each Game Over is like a box of chocolates: you never know what the filling will come next time.
This Void Bastards and captivates - the authors approach the familiar rules. Nothing prevented simply writing in the plot apparatus for regeneration or other futuristic nonsense a la Borderlands. But designers have dug deeper: they have non-trivially beat one of the most familiar genre mechanics, thus emphasizing the surrounding cynicism. Such witty and far from useless parts are more than enough.
For example, all the monsters are talking loudly, giving out a presence ahead of time, and in battle, they also cover charmingly English. Carpets on cruise liners hide the noise from the run, and flying heads are not able to open the door - they have no hands. Even comic stylistics have found the practical application: the inscriptions in the spirit of "top-top-top" suggest whether there is anyone in the next rooms and whether the grenade has finished the monsters around the corner. All this is very nice, useful and very creative for a small indie release from a little-known team.
However, the novelty is strong not only in trifles. Here and the arsenal inspired by BioShock (with a cannon shooting office staplers!), Enemies designed for different approaches, and excellent jokes in the traditions of “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” ... Despite the meager budget, Void Bastards immediately shows what its experienced professionals made. From immigrants from Irrational Games, however, and not expect anything else. Despite the abundance of amusing strokes, Blue Manchu action has a drawback. Only one, but global.
At a certain point, the game, no matter how demanding it was at first, becomes obsolete. The campaign lasts 12-15 hours, most of the time to deal with the same one, time after time. And in the scenery, which too quickly begins to repeat. Various exotic conditions are called to brighten up the situation: for example, ships without light or with a lot of smoke. Alas, this variation is much less than we would like. After a couple of dozen walker corners of all locations are memorized by heart. Tense first races eventually lose their former urgency.
This mainly concerns the upper layers of the nebula: here, as a rule, harmless opponents, few firearms, and new equipment are created indecently for a long time. The farther into space, the more complex and varied the adventure becomes. But the golden mean (2-3 zone) lasts much less than we would like. However, they do not indulge in surprises there either: know yourself, walk along familiar corridors, search the trash can and drive the accustomed bullets into the forehead for a long time.
Even the authors' ironic humor — and he becomes up to the offensive predictable: “Oh, on board the“ Ark ”again something went wrong, oh, what a pity.” Repeat several times, with increasing share of sarcasm.
Closer to the final, fatigue from the boring surroundings gives way to frustration. Turrets overgrow with self-guided rocket launchers, squeaking cameras start to enrage, and tanks they call for - annoying ... After running for a hundredth through a familiar luxury cruiser (with mandatory checking of four identical hotel rooms), you dream of one thing: “ As soon as possible, the end is over!” Not because it is difficult. Just a little tedious, as if you are watching a five-minute short film stretched for a couple of hours. But happiness was so close.
Void Bastards sincerely want to love, praise, cherish, good reasons for this abound. Alas, instead of a small masterpiece, what a shooter seems at first, Blue Manchu has turned out another “just a good roguelike”. With an excellent entourage, a funny world, a couple of brilliant ideas - nothing more.
When you leave the Sargasso Nebula, it seems as if it was not a full-fledged game, but a prolonged prologue. We can only hope that next time the game director of BioShock and his team will go further: instead of a small independent comic book, they will write a full-scale graphic novel. The main thing - to calculate the force. After all, the talent and zeal of the studio is clearly not to occupy.
Colorful, hilarious, surprisingly addictive space odyssey on a terrible galactic anomaly. A great way to spend a couple of summer evenings.
Content is not enough even by the standards of the roguelike genre. Therefore, Void Bastards sometimes feels like a very long demo. It remains to rely on the sequel.
- PLATFORMS: PC, Xbox One
- DEVELOPER: Blue manchu
- PUBLISHER: Humble bundle
- LOCALIZATION: interface and subtitles
- RELATED GAMES: FTL: Faster Than Light, System Shock 2, Deep Sky Derelicts
- IS IT WORTH BUYING NOW: Yes, but you can wait for the summer sale