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.
As a training instructor for Microsoft security and engineering courses, a big “no-no” in the classroom is to read directly from the course books. After all, students can just do that themselves; why hire trainers to perform a “stand-up” routine? For this game review however, I’m going to break protocol (at least for part of it) and peruse the particulars of the rules.
The game is called Space Moth DX; developed by 1CC Games and published by Black Shell Media. At its core, Space Moth DX is a vertical scrolling bullet-hell, reminiscent of arcade machines of yore. From the opening menu you can arrange the visuals to fit your taste, including horizontal vs. vertical screen alignment, CRT “grain line” effects and outline border graphics. As shown in all my screen shots, I chose vertical alignment and no CRT effects. As for the border graphics, I decided to have the actual game instructions overlaid full time!
There are 2 modes of play:
Arcade: A standard bullet-hell experience designed for new players. Blast your way through each level; defeat the end-boss to advance to the next level.
DX: A tougher (and more point-lucrative) version of the game, where enemies are more aggressive and release powerful “suicide bullet” clusters at you when they die! The first thing to consider when starting a new game is your attack. You have 3 weapons available on your little moth-like ship:
Rapid Shot: Your mainstay, and an effective way to dispatch enemies. Individually, these pellets don’t do much damage, but their wide-spread nature makes up for it in short order. Repeated pelting with this weapon will send your foes into a stunned state, where they turn a neon color. What do you do then? Keep reading!
Laser: A powerful, albeit tightly focused energy beam. It does not have the width of field to manage a screen full of enemies, but if used on a stunned enemy, that creature will be “soul drained” and yield a healthy dose of bonus points. What’s more, using this weapon causes your ship to glow with a special “aura”. Nearby enemies will receive extra damage if they come into contact with this aura.
Bomb: A slow-moving mine that deals considerable damage upon contact with foes. You can either fire these manually, or configure the game for auto-fire. Either way, you have a limited number of bombs in your arsenal, so be careful in their overuse. Look for the bomb refill item (among other special items) floating about the screen. Picking these up will add bombs to your inventory.
The next thing to notice is your “hitbox”, a small yellow star in the center of your ship. This is your vulnerable spot and you will lose a life if you’re hit there. “Graze” enemy bullets with your ship’s wings to avert danger and rack up a few bonus points for your trouble.
Let’s now examine bosses. These large creatures fill the map with missiles and other projectiles which you must dodge to stay alive. Defeating a boss allows you to continue on to the next level of the game. Unload everything you have on this baddie, keeping an eye on its health meter at the top of the screen. Also, be aware of the timer located just below the health meter. If time runs out the boss will die, but you receive no points for your effort. On the other hand, double points are awarded if you manage to win this battle with 2 seconds or less remaining on the clock.
So is Space Moth DX worthwhile? Yes it is. Priced on Steam at $8 (USD), the title is a good value for those who enjoy bullet-hell games. It becomes an outstanding value if you’re an expert at the genre and want a difficulty level ranging from tough to insane. Yes, the “DX” mode will prove overly difficult for all but the most experienced; even on the first level. But the “Arcade” mode for me is fun, addictive and best of all the keyboard controls can be customized!