I’m going to preface this review by saying that I don’t play shoot-em-ups. It’s a genre that I’ve never really delved into, and when I do dip my toes in, I usually get bored pretty quickly. Something about grinding the same levels and enemies over and over just doesn’t appeal to me. So take this review with a pinch of salt.
Void Vikings has two modes for you to sink your teeth into. The main mode, where you pick “New Game” to play it, and “Valhalla” which is a score attack. I’ll focus on “New Game” first. Every run begins by letting you customise your ship in a rather unique way; you pick the university, major study, minor study and other perks that your ship (or pilot perhaps) have been educated in. This grants a variety of stat boosts and enhanced effects for your run, at a cost. A financial cost. Stronger stats means a bigger debt you’ll have to pay off to complete your run, so you get to really choose your own challenge. Do you want a beast of a machine? Then you’ll have to play to a really late stage to pay for it. Do you want an easy debt to pay off? Then your ship will be weaker than even me.
On top of tweaking your ship, you also get to pick your difficulty every five levels through your run, ranging from “casual” to “epic.” I stuck to normal cause it made me feel safe. Picking higher difficulties usually gives you a higher interest rate on your debt, with the upside of encountering more enemies for more of that sweet dough to pay off your debt or upgrade your ship parts, so it’s quite the balancing act.
Void Vikings really is all about risk and reward. Play it safe, and you’ll finish with a sucky ship. Play it risky and you’ll die a lot, but may just break through with your death machine intact as well. Any successful ships can be brought in the aforementioned “Valhalla” mode for score attack, where you attack to build up score. Pretty standard.
Now, I’ve not played many space-shoot-em-up-student-debt-simulators before, so I don’t have anything to compare to really, but I found the combat to be decent. Granted, I’d usually just end up holding down the left and right mouse buttons to fire my primary and secondary weapons non-stop, but the explosions were pretty when I did that. I’d appreciate a bit more variety in enemy design and backdrops still cause it felt like there were maybe five enemy types in total. Turning felt janky beyond belief with a controller, hence the switch to my keyboard and mouse for more precise movement. It didn’t help that the 360 degree combat was really hard to keep up with, but at least I had complete control of my train wreck attempts. I realise I just said a lot of bad things about the game, but the combat is solid, trust me.
My best attempt at this game though, was with a ship tweaked to the point where I had a 100% chance where any killed enemy would drop shield regeneration pickups, accompanied by missile launchers and homing rockets. Bellowing full-speed into swarms of smaller enemies and obliterating them was incredibly satisfying, and even the bigger bosses went down quickly too. Taking this build into “Valhalla” was effective too, but sadly resulted in me getting very, very bored. I was happy to finally be defeated twenty-five minutes later.
Really, Void Vikings is an interesting take on a genre I know very little about. I enjoyed my time with it, but like I said, I don’t have much to compare it to. It’s not my thing, so I won’t be grinding for high scores in this one any time soon, but if you’re looking for a shmup with a twist, this one has plenty to keep you hooked. Customisation through the roof will allow anyone to find their shoot-em-up sweet spot with this one, but my personal sweet spot is still somewhere in a whole other genre for now.
A Steam review copy was provided by the developer
Stevie has awarded Void Vikings The Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval