You’re given a slim speck of a story before being dropped into the lush, low-poly environments of Heavy Bullets. Something has gone wrong, and it’s up to you to fix it- if you can survive.
Heavy Bullets is following the course of today’s trends in games. They take a genre – in this case, first person shooters – and slap on a rogue-like layer on top. Once you’re dead, you’re made to restart all the way from the first of ten floors.
It’s a concept I’m currently in some kind of romanticised love affair with, as I’m hugely into actually finishing things. There is an end to Heavy Bullets. Though I’ve been close, I doubt I’ll actually see it for a long while.
It’s not disheartening or irritating to lose and forced to retry. It’s an old trope within video games. It’s a call back that everyone seems to be jumping on. Again, this is in no way a bad thing. I’ve put about fifteen hours in Heavy Bullets and still keep coming back to new surprises.
Heavy Bullets takes the form of the first person shooter, and you can certainly play in the way that you’d expect. It requires precision aiming and careful thoughts. You’re never safe, always rushing to eliminate the enemy and constantly on the verge of death. It’s a game that lures you into getting cocky or confident, only to destroy whatever tower you’ve built in your mind in one fell swoop, as a turret that you just missed takes you out for good.
As the name implies, Heavy Bullets’ bullets are just that. As you fire them, they’ll bounce about for you to pick up and reuse, with reloading manually. It’s not a matter of, “Do I have enough bullets to take everything out?” It’s more of, “Are you on top of things? Are you fully reloaded? Are you poisoned? What are your current stats, and what can you actually do? It morphs what is a simple game on the surface to a deadly game of survival that draws me back in every time I fail.
Climbing down further into the seemingly glorious pits, Heavy Bullets remains constant. There’s never really a difficult spike or curve because if you’re unlucky, the first floor could be your last. The entire game is procedurally generated, lending to the sense of exploration and discovery that leaks from its core. It’s a fantastic feeling when I take a corner and discover a hidden room or open a door to what ultimately, after a quick battle, leads to my death.
When enemies begin to loom in, the quiet hum of music starts to envelop the ears, with a harsh disjointed sound of techno plaguing you until they’re all vanquished. For an already tense game of survival, it’s almost terrifying to know that something has you. However, from where and when it’ll strike is another question entirely.
As with many modern rogue-like games, there’s always some kind of progression. You’re not completely stripped of everything. Using the various banks and item machines littered through areas, you can store items, money or even get life insurance and wills. Some stuff carries over to the next playthrough, easing the pain of the loss you’ve just felt.
The excellent thing about Heavy Bullets, is that while at first everything is kind of confusing or ambiguous, it doesn’t leave it like that. It doesn’t force you to minimize the game, look at a wiki created solely around the game for information that you might actually need. Simply hitting the pause button will give you a brief description of what it does. It’s something I’d love to see enter more games like this because it means I’m not dragged out of the game to look for something that could have been present already.
At its core, Heavy Bullets is something simple. It’s the two basic principles of video games: kill and try to win. You shoot monsters and try to not die. Though once you step through the low-poly door of lies, there’s an entire set of mind games that the genre has encased itself in. Paranoia. Acceptance. Love. You’re paranoid of losing. You accept that you’re going to lose. You love to lose. This is why I keep coming back for more.Tweet