Who Let the Bugs Out?
By Brett Wolfe
Reviewed on Xbox One
Released on October 18th, 2016 on Xbox One and PS4, also available PC
Developer: Awfully Nice Studios Publisher: Triangle Studios
Loud buzzing with a voice over the intercom. ‘Contamination in Sector 1. I repeat, Contamination in Sector 1.’ Commander looks at Scientists. ‘Somebody call the Bug Butcher!’ ‘But Sir?’ ‘I said SOMEBODY CALL THE BUG BUTCHER!!!’
The Bug Butcher is a 2D side-scrolling shoot ‘em up developed by Awfully Nice Studios. It tells the story of Harry the Bug Butcher that is brought in to save the facility from hordes of alien bugs and other mutants. Meeting up with a scientist, you are informed that the bugs have infiltrated the vents and are coming from all directions (mainly from above). You are also informed that you have a certain time limit before the room decontaminates itself by destroying all organic lifeforms, including yourself.
This title differs from any other shmup that I have played because your character can only shoot upward. While you can dash back and forth throughout the stage, the munitions will only fire toward the ceiling. This is perfect for the sequences where the enemies fall from the ceiling or the bugs that stick to the roof or high in the air. However, once you get into the stages where they spawn underneath you, it can get a little hectic. The game features five sectors that have six stages each with varying level layout and enemy patterns. Harry’s arsenal includes a bunch of weapons, power-ups, and upgrades. Each weapon and power-up can be upgraded twice and there is the option to purchase a perk. The weapons that you can get your hands on are the machine gun, the laser beam, the Gatling gun, the rocket launcher, and the chain lightning gun. The machine gun is the primary weapon used and is equipped at the beginning of each stage. The rest of the weaponry are obtainable through supply drops dropped by the scientists. The laser beam, Gatling gun, and rocket launcher are self-explanatory. However, the chain lightning gun fires a small projectile that does a large amount of damage to the enemy in strikes. Plus, it chains damage to a group of enemies surrounding the original target. Power-ups are earned by killing the enemies, which will fill up a meter over time. Once you fill the power-up bar up, you are granted a random power-up between Boot Juice, a Freeze Grenade, or Homing Missiles. The homing missiles and the freeze grenades are easy to understand and the upgrades for them just add the amount of time the enemies are frozen or increase the number of missiles fired. Boot juice, on the other hand, is a neat and innovative power-up I really haven’t seen before. It gives Harry increased movement speed, increased fire rate, and invincibility for a short duration. While the weapons were interesting and the power-ups were cool, the perks are not something I can say the same thing about. They cost 2,000 coins, which is far above the rest of the upgrades and you only can use one at a time. The perks include a speed boost, a bug shield, and a combo boost. Not that they are not cool and useful to purchase and have one on, but they are not worth the money while going through arcade mode, until you have excess money and cannot purchase anything else. There are two game modes that you can choose between, arcade and panic. The arcade mode is the story of the game and is where the bulk of the experience is. The panic mode, on the other hand, is a single-player or local co-op horde mode that pits you against waves and waves of enemies. The panic mode has the same upgrades as the arcade mode, except for the store resetting each time you play and the upgrades costing significantly less.
The graphics are sub-par. It is pretty and colorful; however, there is nothing that stands out about it. The sound is one in the same in my opinion. The dialogue is all played out through gibberish noises. This is not always a bad thing, but I felt this game would have worked much better being silent and just have a text box.
Going into this title, I really did not know what to expect. I was not aware of the games release and had not seen much even after receiving the copy of the game. I believe that without any hype, it made me really appreciate the game while playing. I enjoyed the game and it was a fun couple of hours to play the arcade and some rounds of the panic mode. I personally enjoyed the arcade mode much more than the panic mode. While I felt that panic mode was extremely enjoyable, it got old fast. The few games that I played got repetitive and I would just go back to arcade mode instead. Although enjoying this game, I had one major issue. The story starts off slow and then does not go anywhere. Out of the thirty levels, there is dialogue maybe in eight or nine and that is being generous. To add to that, most of those are in the first sector. The issue that through the game off for me the most was there was so much that was not explained. Why are we in this area? What kind of enemy is this? Why is it superior to the other? None of those are explained and it just became a confusing mess in the end.
The Bug Butcher is priced at $10 USD and I feel that it is fun and worth that price. The co-op is fun, the arcade mode is done really well (except for the story), and the enemy design is pretty cool. If you are interested in a fun little experience, then I would recommend this title for you.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the reveiw
Final Score: 6.5/10
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