Psychedelic, bullet-counting fun.
There is something strangely hypnotic about Heavy Bullets from Terri Vellman and Devolver Digital. The bright, psychedelic colours and simple visuals pull you into a trance just enough to not notice that snake lurking in the bush until it is to late, and then it is game over. Heavy Bullets is quite harsh like that…
Heavy Bullets is currently available on Steam Early Access, which means that the game is technically not finished. That being said, it is perfectly playable at the moment, and even the developer has said that the game is pretty much done, barring a few tweaks and a bit of polish. So there is no reason not to pick up this roguelike, dungeon-crawling first-person shooter. That is, unless you like snakes.
Y’see, the story in Heavy Bullets is something along the lines of the player being cast into an incredibly brightly coloured maze, which is randomly created to encourage multiple playthroughs, with the objective of resetting the mainframe, which can be found on level 8. Apparently there is a $5,000 reward for doing this. But first you have to get there.
The player comes equipped with a revolver that fires comically oversized bullets. There are only six bullets for the player to use, but these can be picked up from the chunky pixel remains of defeated enemies and reused. They even bounce around manically just to remind the player to pick them up, as do the gold coins that fallen enemies drop. Of course, the player then has to remember to reload them, which can only be done one bullet at a time, so no pressure.
The pressure comes from the fact that when you die, its game over. Back to the start without any stuff you acquired. Maybe you nipped to one of the vending machines that can be found through the levels and grabbed some extra grenades, or even some kind of upgrade for your character. Yeah, they are gone. Perhaps you even stocked up on items and grabbed the backpack so you could really load up. Nope, death means losing it all.
The developer obviously knew how mean this was, and so has sent the player some lifelines. Banking machines can also be found in the levels, providing the player with somewhere safe to store their hard earned coins for use next time around. There is even life insurance and a living will which will ensure that death will not mean losing everything and make the next run through just that little bit easier.
Making it more difficult are the enemies found within Heavy Bullets. To start with, it is all about the critter-like creatures that come running straight for you with their oversized jaws gnashing, and stationary turrets that seem to know exactly when you are going to pop your head around the corner. However, progress through the levels and enemies will develop the ability to fly, blast you with ever more powerful weapons and even explode. It is quite brutal.
But most brutal are the simple poisonous snakes. These things are the bane of my existence. The first run saw me move into a bush and get bitten by a snake. The second saw me move round a corner and get bitten by a snake. The third run saw me move backwards from the crazed jaws of a critter, and get bitten by a snake. After suffering snake death more times than is advisable for anyone’s sanity, I began creeping through the game, watching every bush and corner for even the merest hint of a snake. The garish colours of the game meant that the snake was very well camouflaged within any bush that I might come across.
But, as it turns out, this is how the game really needs to be played. There is no point in running in, guns blazing. That way leads to certain and repeated death as the enemies move quick, fire even quicker, and hide in bushes. Heavy Bullets is more of a stealthy shooting experience, one where care needs to be taken. Remember, you only have six bullets.
If you like shooters that encourage a bit of caution, and can get your head around the bright colours and imposed limitations, then Heavy Bullets may well be worth checking out. Eight levels may not seem like much, but the levels are large and getting through them will be no easy task, and the fact that the levels are randomly generated means there is infinite replayability. Heavy Bullets can be found now on Steam Early access for £6.99.