Title: Void Bastards
Developer: Blue Manchu Games
Publisher: Humble Games
Genre: First-Person Shooter, Strategy
Official Site: Void Bastards
Release Date: May 29, 2019
Version Tested: PlayStation 4
To escape the nebula, you will have to use your skills and wits. Void Bastards is a first-person shooter with some light strategy elements.
Developed by Blue Manchu Games, you play as a series of prisoners, or “clients”, who are trying to escape from the Sargasso Nebula. The game is heavily inspired by classic first-person shooters like System Shock 2 and Bioshock.
Explore Derelict Ships and Fight Strange Creatures in Void Bastards
When you start the game, you are given a randomly generated character to play as. In addition to a small backstory as to their past, each character has a different set of traits. Some traits are a bonus, like having increased health, but others can hamper gameplay like having poor peripheral vision.
From there, you must explore abandoned space ships to find crafting materials and items to survive. At the same time, you must fight the different creatures and space pirates on the ships.
As you explore the ships, you will come across several enemies to take on. To do so, you have many different weapons and tools at your disposal. Some range from the standard weapons like a pistol or shotgun, but there are also more inspired weapons like Rifter and Rad Spiker.
What works well with the combat in Void Bastards is how viable each of the different weapons is for dealing with enemies. The electrical Cow Zapper is good for temporarily shutting down gun turrets, but can also be used to stun the warping Spooks before they escape.
Intergalactic Oregon Trail
Besides the FPS ship segments, the other have of the game is a light strategy element. the nebula is represented on a plane, and you warp between each of the ships. Warping to each point on the map uses up fuel and food, so you must make sure to keep your resources up as you explore.
You can also craft items on your ship to upgrade your weapons and item. You can find the upgrade items on the ships, or use the materials you find to make the items themselves.
In addition to your character, each of the ships is randomly generated in terms of items and characteristics. Some ships will have an increased number of enemies, while others will provide more opportunities for resources.
This does not mean the ships are completely different. The ships tend to be designed with more or less the same layout depending on the type of ship boarded. While this can make exploration easier knowing the general layout for a ship, it does become repetitive after a while.
In terms of game genre, Void Bastards falls under the Rogue-Lite category. If you die you lose your character and any materials they had on them, but all your weapons and items are kept for future characters. This means that even though you will have to make up some progress, you are never completely starting over from scratch.
Cohesive Comic Book Graphical Style
What works best about Void Bastards is its style, which is done in the look of an underground comic book. When games go for the comic style, it can be flimsy at best. However, the style of Void Bastards is done cohesively which is why it works.
The different enemies make different noises, and you will visually see the types of noise on a door before you enter the room. Explosions will make the classic “bang” or “pow” comic visual, but those visuals will also show to designate that an enemy has been killed too.
The enemy designs themselves feel both classic and unique. They are done in the classic DOOM style sprite design, but you can see how this strange and bizarre void has transformed these people into horrible creatures.
Going back to the game’s style, it drives home how well the developers have nailed the comic style. Every screenshot of the game looks like it could have come straight out of a comic.
The game has a charmingly dry sense of humor, which pokes fun at the bureaucracy of this passively evil space organization that has imprisoned you and your fellow inmates. Your main guide through the game is the computer system voiced by Kevan Brighting, who also voiced the narrator in The Stanley Parable.
Void Bastards Lacks a Solid Story
The game is full of style and good humor but does not have the main story to follow the game. There are small connections as you advance through the game, but besides that, there is no story to speak of.
What makes it worse is that the world and characters of Void Bastards are so fun and goofy that it would have been nice to see more in terms of a story. Especially given the obvious inspiration from classic FPS narrative games like Bioshock, the lack of story sadly obvious.
The main campaign will last from 8 to 10 hours depending on your play style, but it can last longer. The game also includes several different challenges after you complete the campaign to test your resolve.
Verdict: Void Bastards combines first-person shooting and strategy elements in a fantastic comic book style. However, a lack of story and repetitive level design keeps it from reaching its true potential.
- A fun mix of FPS and Strategy
- Combat allows for variety in how to take on encounters
- Charming humor
- Cohesive comic book style
- Repetitive level design
- Weak story