Game Review: Reign of Bullets

Despite some interesting features, the new shoot ’em up ends up feeling surprisingly conventional, writes

Image: Critical Bit

Image: Critical Bit

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Platform: PC
Release Date: August 19 2015
Developer: Critical Bit

At a time when pixel art is massively popular and can be found in most indie games, Dutch developer Critical Bit have decided to swim against the current by creating Reign of Bullets, a shoot ’em up that ditches pixel art for more cartoony visuals.  It’s nice to see a developer striving to be different, and while Reign of Bullets isn’t exactly the most innovative or unique indie game out there, it does adopt its own visual style which pays back in the end.

The game revolves around a feud between a young mechanic called Troy and the evil corporation named Titan Inc.  The corporation bulldozes part of Troy’s house and builds a busy highway in its place.  In response to this transgression, Troy sets out in his dinky fighter jet in search of revenge.  The player assumes control over the jet and must face Titan’s army.  What at first appears to be nothing more than a mean spirited road construction company turns out to have military capabilities greater than those of most small countries.

The mechanics of Reign of Bullets are typical of the shoot ’em up genre.  The player controls the direction of Troy’s aircraft, shooting down enemies while also dodging their attacks.  The mouse is used for movement while the left mouse button shoots and the right mouse button brings up a shield.  These controls are solid and are easy to get used to and you’ll find gameplay to be consistently rewarding.

The difficulty increases with each level and if you’re not used to the genre then you’ll soon find yourself out of your depth.  There are four different worlds, each made up of ten levels.  The final level of each world features a boss battle, which is where the difficulty gets ratcheted up a notch.  It usually takes multiple attempts to complete these boss battles and you’ll almost certainly find yourself playing through the previous levels again in order to unlock better weapons to use against them.

Reign of Bullets also features a hefty amount of customisation – there is a wide variety of weaponry to choose from and more powerful guns are usually unlocked at the end of each level.  Individual weapons can be upgraded to have greater damage, range, speed and so on.  Your aircraft itself can also be upgraded, through increasing your hit points capacity, along with the number of weapons you can carry at one time.  The customisation aspect of the game works well, as you’ll soon notice the difference upgrades make to the way you play.

Graphically, the game adopts a cartoony style, complete with ‘BANG’ and ‘BONK’ signs that appear as you destroy enemies.  Bright and colourful, there’s little to complain about here.

The only major problems I came across were performance related – issues came out of nowhere after a few hours of gameplay, as the game slowed down and would rarely launch properly, stopping me from reaching the end of the game.  Whether this issue will be widespread upon release, it’s hard to say.  Even if this is the case, an update could easily solve this problem.

Reign of Bullets is a decent shoot ’em up, that succeeds in providing solid gameplay coupled with its own style.  This cartoony style might not be appreciated by everyone, but at the very least it shows a desire to stand out from the crowd.  If you’re looking for a good introduction to the shoot ’em up genre, then look no further than Reign of Bullets.

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