by Sean Martin
previewed on PC
Late last year I remember spying some articles circulating the game sphere about a new title called Void Bastards — a super interesting looking game, with comic book art stylings and a really interesting tone. So I was super surprised when walking around the Xbox presents room at Rezzed, to randomly find that this gem was playable. I strapped in and prepared to feel the Gs.
Void Bastards describes itself as a game following in the footsteps of Bioshock and System Shock 2, partly in reference to the games development director's work on both of those games. But I’m going to offer a slightly different analogy. Void Bastards to me, seems a cross between Deep Sky Derelicts, the strategy RPG from last year, where you explore derelict space-ships, and Borderlands. In Void Bastards you explore derelict spaceships in the context of a first-person shooter, fighting enemies and looting all you can, while you balance the risk and reward of each mission — an idea which was also a focal point in Deep Sky Derelicts. I also say Borderlands, because for me, the shooting feels quite similar, but also there's the use of strange jokey weapons, as well as its funny self-referential tone. It’s one of the things that told me I should keep an eye on this game.
In the Sargasso Nebula, every derelict is a death-trap, filled with enemies, security systems and hazards — if you want to crack each one, you’re going to need some hard-cases. Luckily the game allows you an infinite supply of prisoners, with which to fill your team, the aptly named ‘Void Bastards’. Armed with a selection of weapons, you must traverse each derelict, using your wits, or your brawn, to either overcome enemies, or craftily avoid them. Along the way you’ll loot as much as you can, then use those raw materials at the workbench to upgrade and build items. These range from the explosive 'Cluster-flak' to the ‘Robo-kitty’ essentially a cat based distraction. On top of that, your ship will allow you to choose where to go and who you want to fight.
COMIC BOOK STYLINGS
The other thing that jumped out at me straight away, was the amazing comic book art style. Ever since XIII I’ve always been on the lookout for games which fulfill the comic book aesthetic successfully, and Void Bastards does that and more. The distinctive colour schemes, swirling clouds of smoke, and brilliantly animated enemies, all make every run through a derelict a wonderful thing. The way you interact with the ships also feels dynamic — just as in Alien Isolation, buttons can actually be pressed, which can seem like a small touch, but just adds that little bit of tactility which makes a big difference in repeat environments.
All in all I’m extremely excited — while I enjoyed exploring spaceships in Deep Sky Derelicts, it seems like Void Bastards is really stepping up the formula. Plus with its crazy weapons, wacky enemies and humorous self-referential tone, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.