Moss destruction is a retro, roguelike shooter developed by Shotgun With Glitters. It is in early access and available on Steam.
Moss Destruction has left early access. The review of the full version is now available here!
Aside from having a super cool company name, Shotgun With Glitters put Moss Destruction into early access back in September of 2018 and has been continually updating it ever since. Seriously though, that name. I went and chose Gideon’s Gaming for my site when I could have had something like that…so much regret…..
Moss Destruction is a chaotic, roguelike twin-stick shooter. You play a mossy eyed hero piloting a mech from an isometric viewpoint. The graphical style is interesting and looks almost claylike. The game feels very retro, the main menu, sound design, and presentation of the game invoke a serious feeling of nostalgia, in a good way.
At the start of the game, you choose your mech, only one is unlocked at initially but you can unlock two others by playing. Each one has different traits to them. The first one is a jack of all trades, while another one is slow but can take more damage and the third has less health but is fast and has more cartridge slots than the others.
From there you take on a series of mazelike levels that increase in difficulty until you reach the boss level. Since the game is a roguelike if you die you start over. However, you keep any Krystols you collected which can be spent on upgrades, cartridges, and unlockable mechs. Cartridges are an upgrade you can slot into you mechs at the start of a run and can have effects ranging from boosting your XP gains or giving you a burst of speed.
You accumulate Krystols pretty slowly though and it will take likely take multiple runs to gather enough to buy something. The shops themselves are located in the levels and you have to find the entrance to them. Each time you find one, it will have a different stock of three items to choose from so you never quite know what you will be able to buy.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward. You move your mech around and can fire in any direction while on the move. You navigate the labyrinths of each level attempting to gather loot and find the exit while coming under constant attack from all manner of foe. The enemies are pretty varied with a good combination of melee and shooter goons, as well as ones that ambush you or call in reinforcements. And of course, the infuriating bombers that explode on contact.
Each level is procedurally generated and covered in a fog of war, so you have to explore a new maze each time. You have four ammo types and each weapon uses one of the four; energy, bullets, fuel and explosives.
You can carry two weapons at once and you always start with a basic blaster. You find other weapons out in the world and you have to carefully manage your ammo types. It’s not a good idea to carry two weapons that both use energy for example.
The enemies you kill drop health kits, ammo and rarely Krystol and weapons. Most important is the fact you gain XP with each enemy slain. You can rank up twice each level and if you die it resets. But for each run gaining, as much XP as possible is integral to victory.
Each Rank allows you to choose a piece of mech tech before the next level. Mech-tech are boons that stick with you through your current run. After each stage, you choose one from a random three, but always have access to a resupply that heals you and gives you a bunch of ammo. I really enjoy the image art for the techs though. They look hand drawn and are really well done, again invoking the feeling of games long past.
There is a large variety of mech techs, ranging from boots that make you faster, an orb that deflects projectiles and a cute pet that mauls nearby enemies. The longer you stay on each level, the more dangerous it gets. As nightfall’s enemies will begin to swarm and you have to make a risk versus reward decision of staying for more loot and XP or finding the exit. Being able to choose two mech techs going into the next level is immensely helpful. But if you die trying to farm that juicy XP, it’s back to stage one.
The controls are responsive and the animations give good feedback, the weapons are fun to use and there is a good variety of them to play with. You also pick up random power-ups during each run. You can carry two of them at a time but you don’t know what they do until you activate them.
They can be a huge boon such as increasing your maximum health or wiping out all enemies on screen. But they may screw you over in a pivotal moment by jamming your weapons or making you walk slow. Its a gamble, but if you use a power-up and come across the same one in the same run, it tells you what it does. So there is a bit of risk management strategy involved.
I also want to mention the music. Its a mix of retro and techno beats and honestly it’s pretty great. I often found myself tapping my foot to it and whistling it when I stopped playing.
Currently, the game is a somewhat short one with a single world and boss, and you start over again if you win with only a Krystol reward for your trouble. But there is a lot of replay value in gathering enough Krystol to unlock new toys. And just because you have one successful run does not guarantee you will succeed again. The game is challenging and doesn’t pull any punches. While the environment is procedural, the textures get repetitive. I came across one bug where one of the three playable mechs was invisible.
Moss Destruction doesn’t do anything too new, but it’s not trying to either. It wants to be a fun retro roguelike shooter and it is. So what’s my verdict?
It’s $4.99 on Steam. Five bones, the cost of two full-priced candy bars but without the risk of diabetes. Despite my complaints, it’s worth the asking price even if it were to never be updated again. But the good news is, looking at its update history.
Shotgun With Glitters updates very frequently and is pretty active with its fanbase. In fact, the invisible bug I mentioned is already being fixed. So it’s a good game that’s only going to get better. And in early access that’s what’s important. Frequent updates and interacting with the community.
A key for Moss Destruction was provided to Gideon’s Gaming by Shotgun with Glitters.