The Bug Butcher is a simple side scrolling wave based game that offers a handful of game modes for you to play. There’s the main “story” campaign called Arcade mode and a single player/co-op based mode called Panic. So is the game worth playing or does it butcher your expectations? Look I tried to make a pun, don’t judge me.
I sunk most of my time with the game into the main campaign mode. The premise is easy to digest, you are a bug butcher called in to exterminate all the alien bugs in some kind of science facility. Luckily for you, one cowardly scientist is still around to make quips as you bravely fight your way through a litany of enemies. And that’s exactly what you do, fight wave after wave of enemies all trying to kill you and occasionally steal a scientist. The mechanics are easy to use and quick to master, press to shoot, analogue sticks to move around, a button to dash and press a button to use an ability. The limited and easy to use controls match the game play as you are placed in a room and move left to right dodging enemies and trying to kill them to move on to the next level. The enemies come at you from all directions but the twist is you can only shoot directly up. This is the main challenge for the player to overcome, how to deal with an enemy crawling across the wall or an enemy that spawns on ground level. Each enemy moves differently, some stick to walls/ceilings while others bounce around the level trying to jump on you. Meanwhile there is a countdown to consider. You have to complete the level within the time limit or you have to start from the beginning of the level and not the wave you died on. Death to me didn’t really have an impact, even the most challenging levels are not too hard to complete and I never felt frustrated when I died and had to start again. You can interrupt this in multiple ways. Some will read this and think that’s a good thing like I do, I feel this game is at its best as a fun little experience, but others will be wishing it was harder. There are multiple difficulty settings and I did not try it at its hardest, so maybe that changes things. However for the purpose of this review, I am looking at it as a positive.
While trying to survive the waves in a level, you can pick up various power-ups and abilities. These range from making you faster with more powerful attacks to bullets of fire or the ability to freeze the enemy. There is a decent range of abilities and power-ups and they can really help turn the tide of a level at certain points. To counter you, some levels have various obstacles to stop you from completing your job. Some are lethal to you, like a giant hammer trying to crush you while other obstacles act as non-lethal barriers to make it harder to reach and kill enemies. Unfortunately I felt like there should have been more of these obstacles. They get stale pretty quickly, especially when multiple levels take place in one room, so the obstacle gets old quickly. To an extent this criticism could be extended to the rooms themselves. They have a nice design and are interesting to look at, but having multiple levels set in the same room is slightly boring. I understand not every mission can have its own unique and dynamic room, but more of them would have been nice. For those of you interested, at the end of every level you earn stars based on your score and combo. I personally wasn’t interested in going back and trying to get a higher score, but I almost never am with any game, but many do find this to be an interesting mechanic so it’s worth bringing up.
One of the most impressive parts of the game is its wide range of enemy types. The game makes sure most of the enemies feel different, both in how they move and attack but also how they visually look. I looked forward to seeing what the game would throw at me next. The game also does a nice job of building up to the “harder” enemy types. I genuinely had to attack the enemies differently depending on their movement and attack style. Some bounce and I had to risk getting under them before they came back down to avoid being squished. Others stay at a distance from you and fire at you. Cowards. The screen can get filled with enemies pretty quickly if you’re not quick to take them out, so don’t hang around.
The Panic mode relies on this, having no story and instead being best described as an endless like wave mode but with the addition of upgrades. The coins you earn can be spent here to help you survive for longer by upgrading weapons and power ups. The timer remains in this mode, however the difference is killing enemies will drop a timer to add seconds to your clock. The idea is the player needs to quickly kill the enemies to boost the timer and survive as long as possible. However your life bar is lower than it is on the easiest arcade mode. If you want, this mode is the only mode out of the two that can be played cooperatively. Unfortunately this is local co-op only so I never got to try it out with a friend. If you only have one controller or no one is interested in playing with you with their controller, then this mode will be useless to you. It’s a shame it’s not online co-op as well, I feel it would have helped make the game both more fun to play but also give it more longevity. Even a boring game, which this certainly isn’t, is more fun with a friend so it’s even worse when a genuinely good game doesn’t include it.
Bug Butcher is a fun and quirky little game. It’s good to pick up and just relax and play a few missions when you’re not in the mood for a more taxing game. It runs well, I didn’t notice a single bug. Wait, is that a pun? Either way, it’s a good game. It’s a little short, and while they panic mode tries to make the game hold your attention for longer, the lack of online co-op really lets it down. You should give this a game a try if you see it and its affordable, but expect to play it for a few hours or so unless you really want to earn all-stars. In the end you will enjoy your time with it, but won’t be shouting about it to your friends.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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