First up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.
When you hear the term “shoot-em-up”, your first reaction isn’t to take it literally. Well, it is now! Introducing The Bug Butcher, developed and published by Awfully Nice Studios. In this fast-action arcade blaster, you start out with a basic pulse gun with which you shoot at monsters falling from the ceiling. It’s literally a shoot-em-UP! These bad guys are essentially large, mean rubber balls that bounce and careen around the room. This means you must run back and forth across the floor to keep up with them, while not getting crushed in the process.
When you are positioned directly beneath a foe, fire your weapon. This will split the spherical denizen into two separate, smaller monsters. These smaller ones are less tough, but they move faster. Shoot them again until they turn into gold coins that you can pick up and spend later for special perks and weapon upgrades.
During combat, strange things can happen. A ceiling snake suddenly descends, grabbing a hapless NPC. Quickly shoot it down and the NPC returns to duty, albeit a bit dazed. Also, useful power-ups appear on the floor. One power-up, for instance will grant you extra running speed, while others increase your gun’s damage and rate of fire. Be sure to grab these!
After you complete each round, you’re able to spend collected coins on various weapons, power-ups and perks:
Weapons include machine guns, lasers and rockets; a marked improvement over your basic pellet pistol.
Power-ups include temporary invincibility, homing missiles and elemental grenades.
Perks include speed boosts, protective shields and combo attack enhancements.
The game is fast; very fast. I therefore recommend using a controller, rather than mouse and keyboard. In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s virtually impossible to beat the game with the latter.
There are three degrees of difficulty from which to choose: Easy, Medium and Hard. There are also three distinct “game modes”: Arcade Missions, Panic (Single Player) and Panic (Local Co-op). All this variety provides a welcome degree of challenge within an otherwise repetitive arcade experience. The difficulty levels are self-explanatory, so let’s examine the game modes:
Arcade Missions starts off with a quick tutorial and a training stage. After that, there are five story stages with six missions per stage. Coin-redeemed upgrades are persistent throughout the story and can be removed/replaced after each stage.
Panic (Single Player) is an endless survival variation of the Arcade mode, and monster waves are more intense here. To compensate, you can press ESC at any time during a stage to redeem coins for upgrades! Unfortunately, these upgrades do not persist; they are good for the current stage only.
Panic (Local Co-op) is identical to the Single Player, except that another player can join you in battle. What’s more, you can actually revive your partner when they fall!
All in all, the game is a heart-pounding bullet-fest. The enemies, while similar in bouncy proclivity, sport unique effects when shot. You’re certainly in for a few surprises as you make little ones out of big ones.
So is The Bug Butcher worth it? For fans of arcade shooters with healthy doses of dodging, rolling and running, the answer is yes. Priced on Steam at $8 (USD), it’s a good value. Add its 31 Steam achievements and it’s even better. If, however you’re a staunch PC user who’s not inclined to plug in a USB controller, you may opt for a different game. But before you do, I’d recommend investing in an XBox/PS compatible device and giving this title a try. It’s simple, repetitive action. But for that reason it’s great for learning how to use a controller.