Developer: Blue Manchu
Publisher: Humble Bundle
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC
The business world is a vicious world, filled with tools that become weapons and numbers that determine the future. Even in-depth of space, surrounded by a strange and violent nebula, staplers will become shotguns and citizens will become monsters. For the prisoners of The Ark, each day is a chance to earn their freedom as a client working for the business. From developer Blue Manchu and Humble Bundle Publishing comes Void Bastards, a revolutionary and delightful strategy first-person shooter that combines a genuine sci-fi world with a variety of shooting and exploration mechanics to become the best rouge-lite since Dead Cells.
Void Bastards begins with a dire situation. No ammunition and defenseless, you attempt to salvage the ship and locate a line printer. One cannot be located, and with space pirates boarding the vessel, you are left to die. Fortunately, death means another job has opened up, and a new client can be chosen. A robot hops from the back of the deceased and makes its way to the light-transport vessel, the S.T.E.V. Recognizing the need for a new client, the onboard A.I of The Ark rehydrates a new client. In order to escape the dreaded Sargasso Nebula, your first task is to locate an ID card and a line printer. Scattered throughout the Nebula are disabled ships, rich in loot, but also dangerous mutated citizens, former humans that have had their DNA altered by the Nebula. There’s a long and dangerous fight ahead of you, and as a client of The Ark, business must be done.
Void Bastards is a rogue-like first-person shooter that combines elements of survival games, loot games, and old-fashioned shooters from the 1990’s, seamlessly blended into a smooth and cohesive experience with a stellar presentation. Players explore the Sargasso Nebula, a void of space filled with hundreds of wrecked ships. The player plays as a client. Each client has a positive or negative attribute that can be either advantageous or disadvantageous to the player. These attributes can be changed, depending on the vessel that is boarded. Each ship contains loot, ranging from ammo to food to parts and resources. Each ship features different enemies, as well as threats. Some ships contain deadly turrets that can easily send players to a quick death. Other threats include radioactivity and fire, scattered across the deck of the ship. Loot is scattered across each and every vessel and is essential for long-term success. Fuel is required for travel. Food is required for health. The various resources and parts collected are for use in the S.T.E.V’s workshop. Parts and resources are used to upgrade the client’s office supplies, from weapons to explosives to defense. The nebula is constantly dangerous, with space pirates searching for your whereabouts ant nuc mines impeding your progress. Fortunately, upon death, the S.T.E.V will retain all resources and items, leaving for your new client to inherit and use them.
Void Bastards has a slow start, as initially, the player is rather barely defenseless. Soon enough, players gain access to explosives and secondary weapons. From there, Void Bastards takes off into an extravagant experience, one where the player will want to keep playing and going for those long runs. Playing Void Bastards is a cosmic blender of fear and excitement, attitude, and action, culminating into a plasma stream of great enjoyment. The action of Void Bastards is reminiscent of the early days of 3D shooters, with bright, thick color, illustrated enemies, simple animations, and dynamic effects. Firing the basic weapon, The Regulator, feels impactful, as each round has punch and attitude. The gun brightens the room with flair and style. Enemies burst and explode into a puddle of pulping blue guts. It’s a tremendous and rewarding feeling each time combat occurs in Void Bastards. This is in large part to its presentation and cosmic imagination. One scenario involved using a Riveter, a sub-machine gun that fire hot nails, to eliminate floating citizens, while also using explosive robot cats that would roll around and destroy other enemies.
Void Bastards features a tremendous presentation, ripped right out of the pages of a top-tier graphic novel. From the very beginning, Void Bastards strongly portrays its graphic novel and scifi influences with enthusiasm and gusto. The story is told through graphic novel panels, but for players, the experience takes place within a graphic novel panel. Some may compare Void Bastards to the cult-classic FPS, XIII, as it also adopts a comic book style for its graphics. However, where XIII featured 3D animations with a cel-shaded style, Void Bastards uses a 2D interface in a 3D space, much like Star Wars: Dark Forces and Duke Nukem 3D. This makes the weapons, enemies, and effects pop out as they would in a graphic novel. It’s a charming and well-realized world. This is accompanied by a strong sense of humor, from the enemies, who shout obscenities, to the politely malevolent AI of The Ark. Even the items collected are a combination of office supplies and citizen remains. Ballpoint pens and hole-punched cards are just some of the resources collected. One of the primary objectives is to collect the parts needed to build an HR computer. Overall, it’s an enjoyable experience, and it’s pleasing to see a sci-fi world not dependent on a grey dystopia, but a colorful, cheerful universe. Void Bastards is a charming sci-fi universe, one that would easily fit within the realms of Futurama, Rick and Morty, and Ratchet & Clank.
A common problem with rouge-lites is the seeming desire to punish the player from the very beginning. Players start a run, get good, then lose their progress and resources, making the restart of a run all that much more painful. Void Bastards changes this and becomes the revolution it describes itself to be. Void Bastards has three difficulty settings from the very beginning: Easy peasy, easy, and normal. Several additional difficulties unlock upon the first completion, but these options make Void Bastards and an excellent choice for beginners and experienced players. Easy still makes Void Bastards a challenge, but not insurmountable, as other games do. Even stronger is the fact that parts and weapons are kept, even after repeat deaths. This encourages players to keep playing and keep fighting, infusing that “one more game” feeling that is a rare feat to obtain in video games. Even the incision of choice is a remarkable feature. Players do not have to visit each ship. Players choose which ship to go to and what course to take. In combat, players are not required to slay each enemy, and can easily avoid enemies to conserve health and ammo. Players gain access to a part locator, which pinpoints where to find upgrade items as well. All these options don’t make Void Bastards a cakewalk by any means. nut they certainly provide more avenues to succeed and receive rewards. Void Bastards puts an emphasis on giving players options while focusing on the challenge and the fun. It’s a great offer for all players, and the praises cannot be sung enough.
Perhaps the only fault that I can make with Void Bastards is its repetition, which all video games share. However, that repetition is not even a dent on the Ferrari that is Void Bastards. Void Bastards is an excellent title. With an attractive presentation and an outstanding gameplay system, Void Bastards is a great game for all players, especially for players with an interest in action and space. Blue Manchu have truly outdone themselves and Void Bastards should stand as a game that should be looked up to. Void Bastards is is a job worth signing up for, one death at a time!
31, Stockton University alumni. Brookdale Community College alumni. New Jersey Based
700 articles published across various publications. I like video games. I talk about them. I write about them.
PSN ID: Vectorman88 Nintendo Switch RobertoNiev