Void Bastards Review
I knew next to nothing about Void Bastards until about a week ago when the COGconnected Overlord asked me to review it. I’d seen the comic book styled art and read the brief description that suggested it was inspired by Bioshock (one of the best first-person shooters ever), but I really didn’t know what to expect. However, since first loading it up, I’ve been absolutely hooked. It’s not every day I get to rave about a game… but today is one of those days.
Void Bastards is first and foremost a first-person shooter where you take control of a criminal tasked with repairing the Void Ark, a prison ship that is stuck in the Sargasso Nebula. Floating in your way are countless derelict ships filled with a vast assortment of mutated creatures looking to cause you harm. You’ll need to decide which ships you want to board with the goal of hunting down some much-needed parts to rebuild key components required to restore the Void Ark. Death equals permadeath in Void Bastards, however, you’ll respawn as a completely different criminal, each with their own key character traits. Some might have some useful traits, such as always knowing where enemies are located on the in-game mini-map. Others might have less useful traits like colourblindness, turning the game monochromatic. You won’t know who you’ll get next until you die – and when you find a criminal you like, you’ll do everything you can to ensure their survival.
While Void Bastards is a first-person shooter, there are some well-designed tactical elements here as well. For one, you’ll navigate between derelict ships via your Star Map as if you were moving along spaces on a board game. There are a number of limitations in play here, such as a finite amount of fuel and food to consume and the possible paths you can choose. You don’t need to board every ship you come across, so you’ll need to pick and choose wisely. Each ship has a number of different variables to consider, such as the type of enemies you’ll encounter, the type of parts hidden on-board, and a few other factors that’ll impact your time there. You’ll also have a vast assortment of tools and weapons that you can build and upgrade which also require parts you’ll need to scavenge from ships. If you die, you’ll be able to keep all the tools and weapons your predecessor built – so it’s not like you’ll be starting over again, but death still feels pretty costly. And at times, you might find you’ll die a lot. For me, about half-way through the game, I just kept dying over and over. Eventually, I gained traction by focusing my efforts on upgrading some of my tools, such as armour, and this gave me the edge I needed to pursue the more important parts needed to move the game’s story along. The game also features a number of different difficulty levels which you can change at any time.
A few more things worth noting regarding the gameplay. The first thing I noticed was the inability to look down my sights, which is so common in first-person shooters these days, but in truth, I didn’t really miss that ability too much. When you board a ship, you’ll have a finite amount of oxygen – but most ships have a room that will replenish your oxygen. Health is recovered by eating food – but you can’t eat after you’ve boarded a ship. It’s entirely possible to board a new ship with depleted health and you’ll need to decide if the hidden part is worth pursuing or if you should find another ship with much-needed food. There are a variety of different enemies, but on each ship, you’ll never encounter more than three different varieties. You’ll also know which enemies will be there before you even board – helpful if you’re trying to avoid those annoying Spooks or those brutally tough Screws.
Comic Book Bastards
I really dig the entire look and feel of the Void Bastards, as it’s designed to mimic a comic book. The cut scenes are split into animated comic panels and are usually quite amusing. The game features some voicework, primarily from the AI that is helping guide you and the Void Ark to safety – a charming British sounding chap with a bright personality and some witty quips. The first-person aspects are all cel-shaded and it looks amazing. However, after a while, there’s a feeling of “been there, done that”, even when stepping on a new, unexplored ship.
There’s no multiplayer component to the game, however, I didn’t miss it here. If they ever make a sequel, a co-op mode would be a worthy addition. Upon completing the game, you’ll have to start a fresh game, as there is no “New Game Plus” mode here. The game ends rather abruptly and had I known it was ending, I might have been compelled to stretch my playthrough out a bit and upgrade some more tools and weapons. If you’re the type that loves hunting Achievements, good luck, some of the Void Bastards Achievements are absolutely brutal.
Void Bastards is a brilliant take on the first-person genre. The gunplay is solid and satisfying. The added tactical element makes me feel in control of my experience and less like it was just tacked on. The game can get very challenging, but I was still compelled to keep pushing and trying new strategies. Death comes at a unique cost, losing my current criminal. Heck, there were times where I’d die just to get rid of a criminal that had an annoying trait – and that’s part of what makes this game so unique. The bottom line, Void Bastards is an absolute gem and definitely worth playing.
Interested in learning a bit more about Void Bastards? Be sure to check out our interview with the game’s Art Director.
***Void Bastards Xbox One key provided by the publisher***
- Awesome cel-shaded graphics
- Cool comic book aesthetic
- Well-designed tactical elements
- Tends to feel a bit “been there, done that” after a while
- Game’s ending is a bit abrupt