If you were to trap Starbound and BroForce in a room with no doors or windows, then throw in the audiogasmic (that is a word) tones of Barry White, lavished the star-crossed lovers with enough oyster sauce, chocolate and asparagus to kill a small race horse, then surely, the offspring of the two colossus titles would be the explosive shooter, MegaSphere. Undoubtedly, MegaSphere would not be born, the majestic grand entrance to the world would consume the entire planet in a cataclysmic mushroom cloud comprised of the fire and brimstone of hell, the blood of every demonic tyrant in existence and enough force to make the most virgin of tears combust into merciless lakes of liquid hot magma… You get the picture.
MegaSphere is good, in fact, it’s really good. Although, I must admit at first I really didn’t get that impression. I installed the game, scoffed at the dated graphics, chuckled at the arcade music that trundled along with my every movement, giggled at the predictable storyline; and then I glanced at the clock realising I’d sunk 3 whole hours into the game. Time lapsed by effortlessly, always the sign of a good game. The title was created by AKGames and is currently retailing on Steam for £10.99.
According to the Steam description, MegaSphere allows you to play as a solo Ops combat unit sent to investigate why the stars around the Solar System are going dark, this sounds interesting. Secondly the game itself is described as a story-based post cyber-punk action platformer adventure game of supermassive scale set in the early 22nd century and is inclusive of smart guns, robots, self-reconstructing environments, and vast AIs. Indeed.
Essentially then, MegaSphere is at it’s core an action platformer, similar to the like of classics such as Starbound, BroForce, Terraria to name a few. Although the game has systematically removed any notion of crafting or building, it has instead encouraged the shoot first and ask questions later mentality. This game is not a title where you will adopt the normal play for a period of time, then save your progress and come back later, oh no. MegaSphere has no save points, when you die you’re dead and you start from scratch. You can’t simply leave the level, you will always start from the beginning and have to reacquire what you have already lost. It is the embodiment of permadeath and it is relentless in the application of the rules.
The purpose of the game is exploration and survival, you must use all your skill to stay alive in a constantly regenerating environment. Intelligent alien AI will impede your way and try at every opportunity to end your pitiful human life. To assist your journey, the game has a wonderful collection of gadgets and weapons that can be customised and adapted. In order to gather such perks, you must kill the enemy before you and should luck be with you, collect a rare drop or a new weapon that they leave behind. The game rewards you for taking risks and battling your foe, the more you kill, the better your itinerary will be.
If you think you’ll have a gentle introduction into the game, then think again. Tutorials are for the weak, and the universe of MegaSphere loathes the feeble cretins that attempt to take on the alien might. You’ll find no press space bar to jump message, or be careful that’s a loaded weapon icon, you learn the game from trial and error. If you can’t figure it out, well you’re on your own. Thankfully, the mechanics of the game are not too labour intensive, generally point-and-shoot, you should be fine.
Levolution is a thing too, which I personally love. The ability to blast through previously solid walls adds depth to the game, there really aren’t many areas that you can’t access. The destructible environment also comes into contention when you’re fighting enemies with explosive qualities and ammunition to suit. I recall finding myself at the bottom of a rather large hole that I could not climb my way out of, only to find a plethora of grenades arching towards my lonely direction. I recall the bright flash and the heat on my face… Then darkness, adieu.
Visually the game is fantastic, clearly this isn’t a “Tripple-A” title, but there is a professionalism and purpose about how the game looks and feels. The lighting is awesome, in fact, it is one of the most notable of the graphical features. The light will react to explosions, character movement and the destructible environment. The visuals are purposefully built and suit the style of game-play, almost a nostalgic nod to the games of old, fusioned with passion that is prevalent in a lot of Indie titles.
The soundtrack also compliments the aesthetics of the game well, an electro-dance style has been included with the developer. The tempo of the music will change and adapt depending on the type of situation you find yourself in, should you be running for your life dodging bullets that are whizzing over your head, then the beat will be pumping in your ears. Find the rare occasion when you’re not battling for your very existence, then there will be a calm and chilled vibe.
The controls are reactive and accurately replicate the movement of the player, the game never feels slow or sluggish, but fast and furious, never relenting and constantly keeping you hunting for more enemies to heinously blast down. I would criticise the design of the cursor though, as at times there is so much going on in the game that it can be difficult to make it out against the background.
The game has a whole host of weapons, enough in there to make Chuck Norris faint with euphoria. You start with a simple laser, kill enough foes and you’ll be sending rockets hurtling through the air, placing grenades onto the heads of you unsuspecting victims, scorching the walls with a brutal flame thrower. The weapons can be customised too, add a cheeky reflective quality to your laser and watch the shot bounce around the room uncontrollably, brilliant stuff.
MegaSphere isn’t without it’s bosses too, you will encounter more difficult alien foe. If you can look past the cheese-clad one-liners before the fight then you will be rewarded with a boss that actually requires thought. There will be a tactic, a way to defeat the enemy that you’ll have to figure out and use your skill. The game can be fiendishly tough at times, even more so with the permadeath aspect meaning that should you die, then it’s all for nothing and you must start again.
The enemies in the game are wonderfully designed, although due to graphical limitations they will generally be simplistic, they do have a real feel of alien-industrialisation which suits the style of the game perfectly. The AI is impressive too, should you land a barrage of shots onto your opponent then you’ll find that some will back away and try to move from line-of-sight, you must hunt them down to claim your price. Similarly, if you’re confronted with more than one, try to instigate some sort of cross-fire, should one alien strike another then they’ll start to fight amongst themselves. Simply stand back and watch the fireworks go, oh, you may want to toss-down a grenade for good measure, just a thought.
I wasn’t expecting this, but MegaSphere is currently one of my favourite games. Admittedly there is no multi-player, it is devilishly brutal with the permadeath and to be honest, it does get repetitive when you’re constantly running around killing alien scum with your rather interesting adaptation of mini-nuke, flame-thrower bolt-action shot-pistol… However, there is something cool about the game, it doesn’t take itself seriously. The game is fun, it is fun to look at, it is fun to play; should you have an hour or so free in the day, then sit down and blast away. I’ll definitely be returning to a galaxy near you, I suggest you take a ride too.
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