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.
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.
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.
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.