Heckabomb is a new space-based twin-stick shooter from Allicorn Games and Published by Kiss Ltd, known for gems such as Project Nimbus, iO and Rising World. It boasts positive reviews on Steam and the soundtrack is also available for a fee. The game starts up with some funky space electronica and lets me choose my name like I’m playing an arcade machine in the 80’s with a Scummvm style point n click mouse cursor. I’m thrown into a game with but it doesn’t say anything and I’m unable to leave the area nor interact with anything, not a great start. I exit to menu and click the ‘About’ button. It explains that aliens had destroyed your homeworld and only you, the lone AI Heckabomber survived. Your mission is to destroy every alien world you can find… It screams the worst find of B-movie to me and the lack of introduction seemed a little off but maybe it was a glitch?
I select play on the suitably retro menu and am given the choice of levels to start on, going up in 10’s from 1 to 31. I select 1 and am put back where I began, a message appears (Hurrah!) and I’m prompted to collect resources. Suddenly asteroids flood in from all directions, colliding and hurtling towards the center of the area, I open fire, dodging and breaking them down to smaller and smaller pieces, all the while collecting the seemingly abundant resources within. The level completes just in time before I’m turned into tinned beef, a real ‘Danger, Will Robinson’ moment, I hit Hyperdrive and escape. I get my score and an upgrade screen appears, I select gun damage and crack on.
The next level seems to throw you into a head on assault on an alien planet protected by cylon-like enemy ships… Some real action! The countdown times ticks away as the backdrop shows us headed for the planet and I must survive against the alien forces long enough to bomb the planet. It sounds great but in reality it is really just flying around the same enclosed circle with a different backdrop, bombing a planet, yet not deviating at all from the basic mechanics, its a shame with such fantastic free-roam, top down, RPS-shooter-Space Sims that I’ve played lately I hope this brings more to the table as I continue as I do find it charming. I reach the planet and with a small animation I hyperjump away but I am greeted by a cool retro cut-scene of the planet blowing up and the score screen raises.
I then find myself flying around the same-sized circle destroying the same asteroids but this time… For a higher score. Whilst very underwhelming at this point I press on and discover the enjoyment felt by many must be due to the challenge, with the asteroids exploding under my fire and colliding and spinning you end up creating your own minefield of debris, narrowly avoiding you constantly, the odd one taking you out completely. Here I am, my continues gone and I restart. This time I’m given the option for ‘casual’ mode which is easier and has no scores but I fail to see the attraction without the tense scoring and difficulty. I certainly found the asteroids a great deal more dangerous than the enemy ships, who were really struggling to hit me, and honestly I saw that as unfortunate.
Once I’d upgraded to twin guns plus another few shields and got the hang of circling the asteroids whilst firing and ensuring the tiny debris was wiped out asap made these encounters easier and before I knew it I was taking them down well. At the end of a level I hang around and planetary debris appears citing a dramatic warning and alarm so I get the hell out of there. My next encounter with the cylon-esque enemy contains several new ships as well as increased asteroid and is altogether a more difficult and enjoyable affair. I now have many upgrades have just completed level 10, which I wont spoil for you but involved an interesting, very profitable encounter and a very decent fight sporting some interesting detail… Thinking about it I have been enjoying myself though have to admit disappointed by the scale of the venture. I also gave casual a whirl and got to level 10 in a third of the time with more upgrades, points and the like, so if you’re looking to play with a kid or non-gamer they could also enjoy it without too much frustration.
For fans of the genre or those of you who’re addicted to high scores then I’d say you wont find anything here you wont enjoy or be comfortable with, yet in some ways that’s my gripe, as someone who hasn’t played twin stick shooters in quite a while I expected the recipe to have matured more… As I’d mentioned before, there are games on the market with similar gameplay but based in huge open worlds, with fully customisable ships and ship designs, trading, quests… of which I’ve seen multiple of in 1 bundle costing less than this.
I give this game 75/100 for what it is, as it gets some points for being a fluid experience, bar the initial issue and the controls are easy-to-use on both keyboard n mouse and gamepad and the music is very enjoyable. I mark it down as it doesn’t bring as much to the market as some reviews had suggested and I find the circle of play restrictive for a game in this day and age but I suppose that’s the genre standard, the larger ship battles however saved it some points and were easily the cherry on the top.
[ 75 / 100 ]
Buy Heckabomb on Steam