Review: Astebreed – Shoot ’em Up, Hack ’em Down

Review: Astebreed – Shoot ’em Up, Hack ’em Down
3.5

Platforms:

Windows PC, Steam

Game Name:

Astebreed

Publisher(s):

AGM PLAYISM

Developer(s):

Edelweiss

Genre(s):

Action, Shoot 'Em Up

Release Date:

May 30, 2014

Astebreed – What We Think

There has been a resurgence of Shoot ‘Em Ups recently, and it’s great since they offer up a certain type of experience one has come to expect from them. They can be challenging, punishing games that require the utmost precision and patience. Or there are the more forgiving Shoot ‘Em Ups that are more laid back and about making you feel like you powerful. Astebreed by Edelweiss falls into the latter category and for the most part it accomplishes what it sets out to do.

Astebreed screenshot - Space

Oh, What A 65 foot 2 Can Do (Has Anybody Seen My Girl?)

As you play Astebreed, you’ll soon realize that it has a distinct anime style to it. The protagonist – Roy Becket – is a young pilot who steps inside this humanoid Mech robot which, as I understand it, contains the soul of a human girl.

Roy must fight to eradicate a genocidal alien race aimed at wiping out all humans. It’s an all-too recognizable action Sci-Fi backdrop where war fills the sky and mankind must be saved from the evil aliens. It’s an easy to follow plot, but sadly the game does little to help you understand the tale as it unfolds.

It’s difficult to follow since all the voice-over in this game is only available in Japanese. While you are playing the game, characters will converse with each other – presumably about the story – but I have no idea because you are too focused on the combat to read the English subtitles at the bottom of the screen.

It’s a shame because it has the presentation chops of an entertaining story, but unfortunately the delivery of it isn’t executed very well. Even the in-between cutscenes will not make a whole lot of sense because you feel like you’ve missed out big chunks of the narrative. The game could have definitely benefited from some type of in menu story recap feature you could experience when out of combat.

Astebreed screenshot - Lock On

A Call To Arms

While it’s likely that, while playing the game, you’re going to miss out on the narrative, it’s clear that the main focus is on fast-paced combat. I highly recommend going into the game’s tutorial first to help you understand many of the its nuances.

Besides moving with the left analog stick, you have four different attacks; the first two attacks include a spread shot attack capable of taking down multiple foes, and a more precise attack that shoots straight ahead.

Both of these attacks button can be held down to activate a helpful automatic homing attack. The other two attacks are a close range sword attack and a powerful EX sword strike which can be activated when your EX bar is full. The sword is easily the most unique aspect of the game’s combat. The sword not only acts a close range attack but as a defensive move. It can be used to destroy about half of the projectiles in the game and in doing so it fills your EX bar.

Livin’ On The Edge

Slashing at projectiles is important throughout the game, especially during boss battles. The game rewards you for utilizing your EX attack and without it, boss battles are much more difficult.

Astebreed screenshot - Barrage

The boss battles are by far the most challenging part of the game. Everything that is not a boss battle is relatively mindless on the Easy and Normal difficulty levels. The game is also more forgiving since your Mech has a rechargeable shield that will prevent you from colliding with most foes.

Standard enemies don’t offer much of a challenge either; there was some promise when new looking enemies were introduced, perhaps being able to offer up a greater challenge or a unique way they must be destroyed, but unfortunately, they merely look more stylish than the other enemies.

Flying Into A Wall

I found the game to be too easy, that is, until I hit a certain boss. All the way up to the level 5 boss battle, the game is a cakewalk. When I hit the level 5 boss, it was giving me some trouble. And then the final level follows and it’s just as challenging. This will frustrate a lot of players who easily got through most of the game without any issue, but soon realize they must adapt to the dramatic difficulty spike.

There may be a lack of variety when it comes to the enemy types, but the game’s levels are all visually different from one another. The visuals are top notch and very impressive. There is one short section of the game where you are flying through some fantastic looking clouds, and though it was just a transition, it looked so impressive that it stuck out in my mind.

This scene look even better in motion.
This scene looks even better in motion.

A View To a Kill

The game also mixes things up visually by accentuating its “Dynamically Changing Perspective” as a main feature of the game. This means that you’ll have bird’s eye view sections and Space Harrier-style sections in the game. It works smoothly and, when it happens during combat, it looks great. Too bad this doesn’t happen often, because you’re mainly going to be on the left side of the screen shooting to the right. I would have liked to see more of the perspective changes because it would have helped make the overall feel of the game less monotonous.

Astebreed is an entertaining little game with some issues. It excels at creating good core gameplay mechanics, but everything else around it could have used more work. It has a lot of subtle touches that help it feel slightly unique, but it’s not enough to elevate it above other games in the genre. Regardless, it’s a fun little game for those who are fans of Shoot ‘Em Ups.

Astebreed – Official Site

Get Astebreed on Steam

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

FictiveTruism

Has been playing video games since he was five-years-old and is a fan of a variety of genres. The medium has become such a huge part of his life that he enjoys writing about them in his spare time.

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