Void Bastards Switch Review – A Genre Melding Roguelike Gem

How to make an indie 1st person shooter roguelike stand out in 2020 amongst the myriad of Nindies swarming to the Nintendo Switch.

  • Have a cool setting that everyone loves: the void of space. Awesome, mysterious and spaceships.
  • Have a beautiful timeless art style: cel shaded with vibrant colours that really pop.
  • Have a ‘just one more go’ vibe: you jump from abandoned ship to ship scavenging parts and fighting the remaining crew.
  • Don’t have a punishing gameplay loop: you keep your items when you die just lose ammo and scrap used to make stuff.
  • Straddle game genres: survival and resource management plays the biggest part but you still have to be handy with your guns.
  • Have humour: a witty nonchalant AI aboard your ship to make you giggle as well as enemies hurling comedic gold at you.
  • Cats: everyone loves cats right? But just cats is a bit cliché, how about robocats? 

Sound good? Then you want to play Australian developer Blue Manchu’s Void Bastards.

Think if Borderlands was made with a British style sense of dark humour that will constantly have you chuckling, especially if you listen to the onboard announcements aboard other stranded vessels. It also features some great comic book style cutscenes. The graphics are just as eye popping as Gearbox’s shooter though much lower poly and the gameplay isn’t all guns blazing, instead you have to pick and choose your fights conserving your health and ammo. 

You’re awoken from cryogenics, a prisoner aboard a stranded spaceship in the Sargasso Nebula tasked with boarding other stranded spaceships in order to scavenge parts to fix your ship. When you jump aboard a randomly generated ship you have a limited supply of oxygen to grab what you find and get the hell out usually within 5-10 minutes. Sometimes you have to turn power back on, others you’ll go straight for the map or pinch some fuel laying around in handy canisters. You can only take one gun, one secondary weapon and one device with you so the further you get towards fixing your stranded ship the more tactical Void Bastards becomes.

There are a good number of different weapons and devices, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, the most powerful gun you’ll barely get ammo for so need to use it sparingly, one device is great against turrets but can’t affect particular enemies. You have to check the enemies aboard each ship before you jump in and decide what weaponry to take to tackle it.

There’s also lots of items to make as you scavenge what seems to be useless junk all making you slowly but surely a force to be reckoned with in the Sargasso Nebula all with helpful effects such as increasing your health and reducing radiation damage. All the weapons and items are upgradable meaning there will constantly be a part you’re searching for in order to better your chances of survival.

As you venture around stranded ships you’ll collect a currency called merits which can used in ship interactions such as disabling a ship’s security system.

You’ll consume food and fuel each time you jump from ship to ship so you have to plan your route carefully, luckily you can see what enemies and how many of them will be on the ship as well as what random affect might be in place such as enemies that fight each other or have half health. If you have enough food you can rest to recover a wee bit of health so it’s always worth raiding the kitchen for those sandwiches and Jammy Dodgers.

When you die, don’t worry there’s plenty of prisoners on this ship, perhaps an unlimited supply of fodder to risk their lives to fix your ship each with a unique combination of traits such as being a smoker or kleptomaniac. Importantly you don’t lose any of the weapons and items you’ve made.

There are tons of weird and wonderful enemy designs to feast your eyes upon that’ll both spook and impress you when you first encounter them as you likely run to safety how they intend to inflict death upon you. There are even upgraded versions of the enemies that you’ll meet in the lower depths of the Nebula. The only problem is that the enemies feel robotic just wandering aimlessly, only attacking because they’ve got nothing better to do.

The beauty of Void Bastards isn’t just the way it looks but also how absolutely perfect it is for the switch as it’s fantastically easy to drop in for a 10 minute session when you’ve got free time, explore a ship or two and then carry on your epic quest for spare parts later. It’ll take roughly 12-15 hours to complete if you’re competent at 1st person shooters, which I am not, yet I’ve still thoroughly enjoyed my time hopping from ship to ship being terrified and not knowing whether fight or flight will kick in. Once you have finished you unlock extra challenges adding replay value. With a constant flow of new gear, upgrades and enemies Void Bastards will keep you entertained throughout its beautiful resource managing, survival, 1st person shooting, spaceship hopping, roguelike adventure.

A huge thank you to Humble Bundle and Blue Manchu for providing the review code. Void Bastards is available now on the Nintendo eShop for £24.99/€29.99/$29.99.

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