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Heavy Bullets

Score: 85%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Terri Vellmann
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

I love games like Heavy Bullets. Of course, I love Heavy Bullets, but that's slightly beside the point. I love quick fix games with super high stakes; these are the kinds of games that I find myself returning to when I find that I'm either sick of killing the avatars of actual people around the world or finding out that I truly have done absolutely everything in this one province of Tamriel. When that happens, games like Heavy Bullets are there, beckoning, almost as if they're saying "Hey, got a palate cleanser over here, buddy." Heavy Bullets is an excellent shooter/roguelike hybrid that makes every single shot count.

Heavy Bullets leaves an incredible first impression on the visual front. Polygons. As far as the eye can see -- or at least as far as the many walls that box your character in. Here is a game that is all about color -- but NOT texture. And the effect is intoxicating, at least for a while. Unfortunately, over the course of the game's levels, there are no changes to the main scheme. Of course, it's fallacy to judge something based on what it isn't, rather than what it is. And when it all comes down to it, Heavy Bullets is a visually cohesive game with excellent, simplistic monster designs and levels that make sense, despite being procedurally generated.

Retro. That's the best word I can use to describe Heavy Bullets' sonic assault on the player. It's a smorgasbord of lo-fidelity sound effects and borderline chiptune samples. Most of the time, you don't hear anything. But considering the speed and ferocity of the varmints infesting the mainframe, it's nice to have all your senses completely intact and distraction-free.


Heavy Bullets doesn't really waste anyone's time with story: it just gives you the vaguest of reasons to go down into the dungeons and clean up. But here's the basic gist of the narrative frame: the mainframe has been invaded by monsters. Go down there and give it a good old-fashioned power cycle.

As I've mentioned before, this game is a randomized dungeon crawler. But what makes it different is the fact that it's a first-person shooter. Most dungeon crawlers are point and click role-playing games along the same lines as Diablo or Torchlight. Not this one. And what makes it even more interesting is how it plays with the conventions and rules that govern most other shooters.

The point in Heavy Bullets remains the same: get to the end of the level. Of course, it isn't that simple: everything is out to kill you, and between their hyper-vigilant reflexes and their "shoot first, ask questions never" attitude, you've got to bring the pain just as hard if you want to survive. But Heavy Bullets is actually at its best when you're not merely surviving, but thriving. More on that later.


Most roguelike dungeon crawlers are brutally difficult, and from the outset, Heavy Bullets is just that. But it's difficult in the Dark Souls tradition of death being an implement of learning. You will spend most of your tries traipsing through the jungle without a care in the world until -- oh no! -- a snake bit you, taking half your health away! And what's that, a turret has just sprouted out of the ground? Boom. Curtains. This game does not play around, and it really doesn't matter how good your reflexes are. You have to have a plan.

There's a way to conquer each and every single obstacle in Heavy Bullets, and more often than not, these strategies require patience and observation. The key mechanic in the game makes it impossible to just peek around the corner and do a little spray-and-pray. Each shot counts, and if you're left defenseless, the odds are stacked pretty heavily against you.

Game Mechanics:

Heavy Bullets has one defining mechanic: every bullet you fire must be retrieved if you want to keep your ammunition supply -- and you do. When a fired bullet hits something, it immediately flops to the ground and starts hopping about like a Mexican jumping bean. And since nearly every room is crawling with hostiles ready to take a bite out of you, every single bullet is a potential savior. So you'll have to go about your purging duties slowly, deliberately. This might mean getting the attention of a single enemy, backing into a safe area, and popping the little goon in an area where you can safely grab the bullet without pulling aggro from anywhere else. Of course, some areas don't allow you to play this way, so you'll need to change your strategies on the fly. And quite often, Heavy Bullets devolves into pure chaos, with you running for your life trying to grab as many spent bullets as you can until the enemy closes in on you.

Like all great roguelikes, though, Heavy Bullets gives you more than just a couple of bullets. There are items out there for the taking, some of which are designed to help you survive the gauntlet, and others that might actually have an impact on your next playthrough. Indeed, you can bequeath gear and cash to your successor, which can be a very smart move -- especially if you're low on health. And of course, there's nothing like the thrill of earning an item that gives you an edge over enemy forces that once seemed impossible to conquer.

Heavy Bullets was designed by one person. Don't get it for that particular novelty, though: get it because it's a great game.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Minimum System Requirements:

OS: Windows XP or later; Processor: 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; Memory: 2 GB RAM; Graphics: DirectX9 - Nvidia / ATI / Integrated; DirectX: Version 9.0; Hard Drive: 300 MB available space

Test System:

ASUS G74S Series, Intel Core I7 - 2670QM, 2.2 GHz, Windows 7 Premium, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M, 12 GB RAM

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