By pure chance, I have been playing a lot of shoot ’em up type games recently. From the combat sections of Undertale to the rockin’ skies of Steredenn to the complex simplicity of Vortex Attack, I’ve been perfecting my bullet dodging skills. Perhaps that was the initial draw to Legacy of the Elder Star, a unique side scrolling shooter currently making its way through Greenlight and Kickstarter.
What sets it apart from its peers is that it is controlled entirely using your mouse. Primary weapons on left click, secondary on right-click, and your special is executed by hitting both buttons simultaneously. It’s a unique way to control a fast paced game, and you get the hang of it surprisingly quickly. I’m not familiar enough with the genre to know if this control scheme has been done before, especially since I mainly play games on a controller, but it instantly feels familiar and intuitive.
The character you control is called The Cosmonaut, and he faces the forces of the Infinite Legion on his quest to protect sparks omitting from the titular Elder Star. You are guided by one of the sparks, who provides brief information dumps on the villains you’ll face, as you go through the missions. Considering the basic narrative to most shumps, it’s interesting to see a developer take a stab at something more. It doesn’t work all the time, but there is some substance there, and it does nothing to subtract from the arcade pace that the rest of the game is running at.
The revealed primary weapons are pretty standard, with a machine gun and a shotgun to choose from. However, since you’re controlling your character exclusively with the mouse, some of your special weapons are going to be a bit different from what you would normally expect. What is perhaps the signature weapon of the game is the “star dash,” where you can power up and then ram into enemies by clicking and dragging you character over them. It speeds up the gameplay and allows careful players to clear waves of foes with stylish ease. There are also tracking missiles that use a radius around your character to lock onto foes.
As you’re crushing and/or clicking and dragging over your foes with laser death, it always helps to have some great tunes in the background. Thankfully, Legacy of the Elder Star delivers with a quality soundtrack of the type of synth that you’d expect from this type of arcade experience. What isn’t expected are the visuals, which are sharp drawings that more than make up for the lack of pixels and sprites. It has a simplistic color palette, with the types of greens and reds that you see in a lot of space games nowadays, reminding me a bit of No Man’s Sky‘s style in places.
The enemies you’re fighting are a bit cut and dry—a bunch of robotic foes interspersed with mines and other hazards. The bosses are a bit better as pictured above. Any game that can have a character ripping it up with a mini-gun that nonchalantly is OK in my book. As for The Cosmonaut himself, I like his look a lot. It’s iconic and different from the horde of foes you face. He has the teeth bearing grimace of a gritty cartoon character, which makes sense when you consider that he’ll be getting flung around haphazardly into enemies over the course of the game.
If you’re interested by the concept, Kickbomb Entertainment have posted a demo of the game to itch.io, featuring three levels and a wealth of bonus material, giving a brief look at what could be should the game get funded. Having played it myself and being surprised by how tight the controls felt, I’m eager to see more. The game is currently planning on launching early in 2016 according to Greenlight. If you feel as eager as I am, be sure to give Legacy of the Elder Star a thumbs up and get it onto Steam proper.
What games crawling through the Greenlight process are you following? What kind of smile would you have if you were tasked with ramming into robotic opponents? Have any other games tried out this mouse control driven system? Answer these questions and more in the comments below!