I love a challenge. The agony of dying is simply fuel for the burning desire to conquer an obstacle. It’s that thirst for victory that has always endeared me to roguelike games. Though you don’t see many high-budget titles in the genre, the scene has seen a resurgence in popularity among indie developers. And where things get indie, they get a little weird…
Heavy Bullets is a technicolor procedural death labyrinth you’ll like proportionally to how much you enjoy being bitten by a malfunctioning cassette player. For fans of the genre, I mean that in the best way.
The graphics are done in a simplistic, faux retro style and a color pallet with more neon than Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. The soundtrack is made up of engaging electronic tracks that immerse you in the odd digital jungle. The aesthetic and sounds compliment each other well, painting an eerie, colorful, and deadly world where you’ll have to hunt or be hunted.
The game contains eight levels of increasing difficulty to descend through on a quest to shut down the malfunctioning security mainframe. Players pick up items and upgrades along the way to combat the ever climbing chances of death. Bullets are scarce, so players must ration their 6-shot revolver’s supply accordingly. Enemies have a nasty habit of camouflaging themselves against the florescent forest and the security system charged with keeping the grounds safe will gleefully gun you down instead. Wasting shots early on can leave you wanting for ammo later when you really need it.
Heavy Bullets has a relatively low entry barrier with a manageable difficulty curve that favors skill; a welcome departure from having to rely on luck to provide suitable items merely to progress. Also a bit out of the ordinary the are banks in addition to medbays and ammo dispensers, which enable the player to deposit valuable money and items they’ve acquired to be used later or on a subsequent play through. Death is permanent, but with proper usage of the bank you can mitigate the setbacks that come with it.
I spent some time looking for thing to fault this game for, but I was really hard pressed to come up with anything. Heavy Bullets succeeds in what it sets out to do, and it manages to be damn fun while doing it. Frustration can set in after multiple failures, especially if you find yourself dying over and over on the first couple floors, and after a while it can wear you down. Still even after my third or fourth time letting myself be ambushed by a pack of low level monsters I was aware that it was my own fault for not being careful enough, and that the game was not punishing me unnecessarily. Even when I put it down in anger I got the itch to try again not long after.
Heavy Bullets is a delightfully trippy little game you can pick up and put down on the fly and due to its random nature there’s always something to come back to. It’s fairly unique with its approach to the FPS/Rogue-lite blend and the execution is possibly the best mix of the two to hit the market yet. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to everyone, it offers a serious challenge for people who are fans of either genre or those who are just gluttons for punishment.
You can get the game for a mere $10 on Steam
The game has a bizarre aesthetic, but the gameplay is addictively simple with enough challenge to keep it interesting for multiple playthroughs.