The Nintendo Switch is a unique platform with no shortages of games in the rogue-like genre. Dead Cells, Enter the Gungeon, Slay the Spire are some of the console’s best rogue-likes, and now Void Bastards joins the lineup. It’s a unique and addictive sci-fi shooter with a very unique comic book art-style and some truly unsettling enemy design. It’s not a perfect experience, but fans of the rogue-like genre should not pass up on Void Bastards on Switch.
In Void Bastards players assume the role of an endless group of dangerous prisoners aboard the Void Ark, an enormous space jail. These convicts are now being woken up by the ship’s onboard A.I – B.A.C.S – in order to venture into the infamous Sargasso Nebula, ransacking enemy-infested vessels in search of vital components required to get the malfunctioning Ark up and running again.
The core gameplay in Void Bastards is like any rogue-like game. You’ll die repeatedly as you attempt to move further and further through the game, with each death permanent for that particular prisoner, then restart with a new prisoner. This is made easier by a handful of persistent elements that see you grow stronger with each unsuccessful run. Scrap and spare parts you’ve gathered are able to be worked on at your workbench aboard the Ark in order to unlock new weapons. You start out with a very average pistol but will soon be firing off toxic spikes and stronger guns at your foes. You’ll also be able to beef up your armor and add a variety of skills that make the whole thing just a little bit easier to survive. Void Bastards is generous in giving you a bunch of information about numbers and types of enemies aboard each craft before you dock. This helps you out in deciding whether or not a particular stash of fuel cans, food sources or upgrades are worth taking a gamble on.
Void Bastards is also unique in that it manages to never overstay its welcome. The campaign took a little over 10 hours to complete, having the game end before the repetition factor really sinks in. That’s not to say this is an easy game you can beat in no time. Enemies are dangerous, and mistakes will be severely punished, giving the whole game a solid level of tension throughout. The beauty is that the game is over before you’re sick of it. Void Bastards is also a perfect fit for Nintendo Switch as the pick up and play versatility of the Switch makes it perfect for short sessions. Overall, the Nintendo Switch version of the game looks and plays just like its counterparts on other platforms. Every so often there is a slowdown when things get very busy on-screen, but it’s nothing that ruins the gameplay experience and that doesn’t go away after a second or two.
Surprisingly, the weakest part of Void Bastards has to be its shooting.The shooting is pretty straightforward, you can’t aim down the sights of your weapon, duck behind cover, or do anything to roll out of harm’s way or use gyro aiming. For a game that focuses its combat on shooting, having the shooting be so average is a letdown. It’s not a game-breaking problem, the shooting still works, and after a while you get used to it. It’s just so average that it’s a letdown, especially when the rest of the game is a very top-notch experience.
Developer: Blue Manchu
Publisher: Humble Bundle
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (also PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Release Date: 7th May 2020 (Nintendo Switch, PS4), 28th May 2019 (Xbox One, PC)