Void Bastards is a first person, rogue-lite, action, strategy game developed by Blue Manchu. It is available on May 29th on Steam, Humble Bundle, and Xbox One for $29.99, It will also be available on Xbox Gamepass. This review was conducted on a standard Xbox One system by Joseph Pugh.
Graphics aren’t a subject I usually focus much on these days. Frankly, there is very rarely an ugly game anymore. Yes, some look better than others, but overall I feel like graphics more than any other aspect of a game have the largest amount of diminishing returns on enjoyment. As long as they are of an acceptable level, all is well. However, I have to talk about the visuals of Void Bastards. They aren’t photorealistic, but they are incredible. Playing the game feels like walking through pages of a comic book and every aspect of the game oozes with that theme.
You can visually hear enemies through a doorway as the words, step, step, step appear in front of you. The enemies sprites look like a combination of two and three-dimensional. When they die, they explode in a visually satisfying manner. The sound design plays up the comic style sound effects to further immerse that comic book feeling.
The entire game oozes with comic book flavor.
Void Bastards puts you in the shoes of prisoners being recruited by a posh talking computer and tasked with searching derelict ships to obtain parts to fix the various aspects of the home ship. I say, prisoners, because when you die (and you will) you are replaced with another freshly hydrated body with their own traits. These traits might be negative, a smoker who coughs every now and then alerting enemies. Or they could be beneficial, such as being able to sprint faster.
Starting with just a simple pistol, you are thrust into a galaxy map where you are free to choose your own path. Flying around the galaxy requires fuel and you need to eat some food every day. Run out of food and you die. Run out of fuel and you will find yourself coasting to the next point, consuming significantly more food in the process.
You are free to choose your own path and what derelicts you board, but beware of pirates and space whales!
The galaxy map is procedural and different derelicts you encounter will house different types of resources. Lux ships tend to have a ton of food for example.
You will also find space squids on the map that consume the derelicts they run into. Having a derelict eaten that housed a part you wanted can be a real punch to the gut. There are space whales that will kill you if you occupy the same space. Then there are pirates that will chase you around, board the derelicts with you, and of course, try to kill you. The Sargasso Nebula is a mean place. If you get ahold of some torpedoes, you will destroy them on contact instead!
Once you pick a derelict to scavenge the game translates into the first person and your free to loot as much as you want, and leave when you want (providing the derelict has power and you can make it back to the airlock alive).
A large part of the game is risk versus reward as you decide if you can risk looting more of the ship or if it is time to count your blessings and leave. If you die, you get no loot from that derelict and you lose your ammo, food, and fuel and you start in another generated part of the galaxy. That next jump over had the part you needed? Tough cookies, you have several jumps to the next derelict that houses that key item.
Derelicts are full of security elements, mutated citizens and hazards.
In addition to fuel, food, and ammo. You will also be picking up rare parts that you can craft new weapons and tools with as well as junk that you can use to craft parts with. You do not lose your crafted goods when you die. Building and upgrading your gear is key to the progression you need to take on tougher derelicts deeper in the nebula.
Scavenging the derelicts requires some thought. Run and gunning will not only wipe out your ammo stores but will also often lead to your death as the game gets more difficult. You have a map where you can read the rooms on each ship, and different vessels have different variety of rooms.
You can plan your routes and exit strategy. Loot is random but logical. Food can be found in dining rooms, staples ( which are ammo for one type of gun) can be found in office cubes.
Make your way to the security room and you can shut down the turrets and cameras on the ship. If a ship’s power is out, you can reboot it from the generator. Find yourself on the bridge and you can download information that will reveal items locations on your map, and enemy locations if you can fork up some credits.
You also have to manage your health and oxygen, unless you are on a medic vessel, you cant heal on a derelict. Instead, you slowly heal when warping or resting on the galaxy map. Most vessels do have an atmospherics room where you can refill your oxygen, assuming you can get to it.
Gear and weapons you craft carry over after you die. You may choose one direct weapon, one indirect weapon, and one gadget to take with you when boarding a derelict.
Most derelicts are infested by both citizen and security measures. Citizens are mutated crew and tourists on the ship. Your weapons have varying degrees of effectiveness against different types and they all require different strategies. While turrets will attack you on sight and cameras will call in a badass security bot to hunt you down.
Don’t despair however, you can eventually hack some of the security elements and turn the tables. It’s in your best interest to tread carefully. Sometimes it is better to lead citizens into an ambush of land mines, or draw them to an airlock and pull the lever. Or sometimes to avoid them altogether, you can lock a door after they go through it. Most enemies can’t open a locked door. However, its kind of embarrassing to lock a door then realize you actually need to go that way… Doh. Better yet, chuck in a cluster grenade THEN lock the door. That’s the kind of thinking that will get you through.
Tossing in a cluster grenade and locking the door can be an effective move!
The campaign is decently long, especially if you die a lot and though the game has multiple difficulties, it is a rogue-like, dying is a part of that. The game has a lot of replay value. It never really gets boring no matter how many times you die. The galaxy’s ever-changing procedural generation does a good job of making sure of that. However, once you are done, it does lose a bit of its luster.
Yes, playing again will still have those random elements, but since your gear is based on a tech tree you will be going through similar motions, unlocking the same gear at the same point in the game you were last time.
You can open up your map at any time to see the various rooms of the ship.
The enemies in the game are well designed and all require a different approach, and visually they are awesome. But there is a smaller variety of them than I was hoping for. The shooting is somewhat basic, but that’s not really the point of the game. It’s not a run and gun title, its about planning and risk versus reward. If the objective of the game was to shoot every enemy you see, it would be terrible.
It is about leading them through that fire you saw in tunnel three, locking that big nasty guy in that room, hacking that turret, then using a rifter gun to move it into enemy filled hallway. The price point is a wee bit high but overall if you like rogue-like elements and games where you decide how to play and what paths to take. You can’t go wrong by being a Void Bastard.
A review copy of Void Bastards was provided for Gideon’s Gaming by Humble Bundle.
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- The fantastic art style makes it feel like your playing a comic book.
- Strategical rogue-like gameplay
- Multiple difficulty settings
- The random and procedural generations of galaxies, traits, and derelicts is a ton of fun
- Smart and logical design of derelict ships, food, and fuel are found where you would logically expect
- Planning and executing strategies can be a lot of fun
- Lots of weapons and tools to build
- The price point is a little high
- Gunplay is somewhat basic
- Loses some replay value after the first completion (still remains fun, however)
- Enemy variety is a bit lacking