Tested with AMD Radeon R9 290
Heavy Bullets is a roguelike FPS maze crawler where you delve through procedurally generated levels defeating enemies up to a final level (eight) where you can reset the security system that has gone rogue and caused all of this trouble in the first place. That fragment of story is really left to the wayside though as this is a game all about striking visuals and intelligent gameplay.
With distinctive low-polygon neon art Heavy Bullets is immediately recognisable. While this is an admirable quality in indie games and necessary to make a name for yourself, it does lose much of its effect within five minutes of playing the game. There’s no spectacular vistas or dramatic palette changes, instead it’s incredibly repetitive and means any sense of progression has to be gained from the increasing difficulty rather than the look of the game world. We’re incredibly shallow at TPReview and the art style began to grate fairly early, with the low polygon models seeming cheap and simple rather than charmingly retro.
The gameplay is thankfully very interesting. Movements and aiming are alarmingly quick resulting in a shooting mechanic that is all about skill. There’s no auto aim and with the twitchy controls you need to be precise and deliberate with your movements. Ammo is limited with your six shooter (and grenades and occasional other items like rockets and bombs) so you really need to make sure you hit with every shot. Generally each enemy will drop a single bullet so you hope to kill with every shot. When you miss it feels like a disaster and it’s easy to find yourself in a situation where you have no ammo and you simply need to run to the exit or buy some more from the liberally provided vending machines.
The extra items you get are generally uninteresting, with some providing ways to save your money for the next life (your last will and testament) while others provide an extra bit of firepower like straight line missiles or limply thrown megabombs. While you do in theory improve your character with these items you can only carry one at once so there’s not much progression for your character, unlike many of the more recent roguelike successes like Rogue Legacy.
The enemies are scary (they remind me of those horrible black fuzzy things from the Super Mario Games. I hate those things) and the soundtrack is immersive so there’s definitely fun to be had. Unfortunately it’s short lived fun and with no real sense of progress there’s little to incentivise you to get through all eight levels. By the third or fourth level it already starts getting very hard and the thought of more seems like a slog rather than something to look forward to.
Sadly Heavy Bullets is an example of style over substance, and the style just isn’t that interesting past the initial wow factor. For £6.99 (£5.94 until 25th September) it’s cheap and will entertain you for an hour or two in the evening, but it’s not going to have any longevity.