Tag Archives: Astebreed

On July’s Game of the Month

For those of you who haven’t listened to the podcast yet, the Game of the Month for July is Astebreed. It’s a Bullet Hell shooter available on PC on a number of services, and recently, also on PS4. I didn’t honestly think I was going to get the members of our podcast to play this game, and I’m still not sure if they’ll like it, but it should be interesting talking about it. Even if you haven’t played a Bullet Hell game before, I think this is a pretty good starting point. I had screenshots of me playing this at one point, but you’ll have to settle for screenshots from Steam for now.

title screen

The Game

All I really need to say here is that Astebreed has you controlling a giant robot with lots of guns and a big sword. It’s predominantly a side-scrolling shooter, but there are also times where it plays more like a corridor shooter (i.e. StarFox). As expected from this type of game, you have a significant amount of firepower, as do enemies. In addition to a standard shot, you also have a lock-on shot and a large sword. It’s this last element that changes things up, as the scoring system encourages slicing enemies in half, and swinging your sword can destroy enemy shots. Also unlike a lot of traditional scrolling shooters, you don’t die in one hit, you have a health bar that is somewhat generous, and even regenerates if you go a while without getting hit.


The Presentation

Astebreed is the spiritual successor to a game I’ve never played, Ether Vapor. It has a self-contained story that reuses some characters from the previous game, and pays a lot more attention to story than I’d expect from a shooter. For starters, it has Actual Characters and an ending that isn’t just “Congrats, you blew up the bad guys”. There is voice acting, but none of it is in English. Cutscenes exist between levels to develop the plot.


The Choice

I almost made the Game of the Month for July the Final Fantasy 5 Four Job Fiesta. Kodra even suggested that I should, so we could talk about Final Fantasy (like we don’t do that enough). I went with Astebreed because I wanted us to play something a bit different. We’ve mostly had games of the month that have been a bit methodical, between RPGs, strategy, and puzzle games. We haven’t had any actual action games, and this seems like a good candidate.
I did mention another game, however: Jigoku Kisetsukan is free on steam, and is a “tribute” to the Touhou series. I bring this up because it’s nice to have a comparison to a different style of Bullet Hell, and this is actually a very good example (it’s a better game than a lot of shooters on Steam that are not free). That said, the difficulty curve in this game is more like a brick wall than any actual curve, and the graphics aren’t entirely cohesive. I recommend giving this a shot if you make it through Astebreed before the end of the month, as Astebreed is a very short game.

Jigoku Kisetsukan: boss4
Sadly, you don’t have a sword to cut through this mess.

On Current Shooters

I’ve been caught up in WildStar, graduations, and other things, so I haven’t gotten a chance to play most of the various shmups (or STGs, as they’re sometimes known) that have released on Steam in some fashion recently. I made a quick attempt at a few of them recently, so here are some impressions.


Crimsonland is a top-down shooter reminiscent of Smash TV, or Robotron. Many different weapon types are used to kill hordes of zombie-like aliens, and there’s some progression that involves unlocking different weapons (which vary in terms of accuracy, fire rate, secondary effect, reload time, etc.) and perks (if these did anything at all I didn’t notice). It’s apparently a remake of a game that released for PC eleven years ago, but I didn’t know that going in. Of the games mentioned here, I think I enjoyed this one the least. The player’s movement feels incredibly slow (although there are speed powerups you can find in the levels) and the weapons just aren’t that interesting.

crimsonland_1 crimsonland_2 crimsonland_results


An Early Access game, this one’s more like Geometry Wars or Super Stardust. You fly around as an odd dragon-thing and use customizable weapons to shoot down flying saws. I almost wish I was making that part up. I got this one because it has co-op, but I tried with Belghast last night and couldn’t get it to work. The weapon customization is interesting, but I think this is one of those games that would be much more interesting in multiplayer. It’s a bit basic without, or at least it starts that way.

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The “sequel” of sorts to Ether Vapor Remaster, Astebreed puts you in control of a flying mech with a giant sword. This (mostly) side-scrolling shooter is full of enemies and bullets, but has some additional mechanics, namely the lock-on and the sword. You can hold the fire button(s) to lock onto enemies and fire on them, but this reduces your ability to fire normally while it’s going on. The sword allows you to both make invincible dashes across the screen and to deal damage/destroy enemy attacks in a small area in front of you. The sword is a lot of fun to play around with, and it’s also quite useful and factors heavily into the scoring system. This one’s a little more expensive than the others on the list, but it carries correspondingly higher production values, graphics, and an actual story. (It’s crazy and Japanese, but it’s there.) If you have any interest in the genre, Astebreed is highly recommended.

astebreed_chaos astebreed_cutscene astebreed_results


A port of an arcade game which was ported from a Japanese indie (or Doujin) PC game, Crimzon Clover replaces Jamestown for me as the best scrolling shooter on Steam. Sitting squarely in the Bullet Hell category, Crimzon clover has more traditional aesthetics than the other games here, featuring a spaceship firing many bullets at other spaceships, as well as a “bomb” button (more on this in a bit). As a bullet hell game, you have a tiny hitbox, the screen is filled with bullets (both yours and the enemies), and the difficulty is through the roof (even on Novice). Instead of having a stock of bombs to deal with the swarm, there’s a “break gauge” that governs bomb usage. When over a certain point, pressing the bomb button uses a bomb, which clears the screen of bullets and damages all enemies on screen. If it’s full, you instead enter “Break Mode”, which massively increases firepower. If filled again while in break mode, you can enter Double Break Mode for further bonuses. This is extremely satisfying, and the resulting spray of stars and colors looks awesome. I have a hard time recommending this game to anyone unfamiliar with the genre (Jamestown is my recommendation for getting into it), but I think this might be the best shooter on steam right now.

cc_ship_selection cc_break_mode cc_continue

One final Note…

Yesterday, Rae completed a Blue Mage Ashgar chibi, which is now found both here and in the site’s header. I think it’s awesome, and you should check out her site for more.