Reviews - Updated on April 13, 2022

When evaluating games related to the shoot ’em up genre, you will certainly compare them with the excellent Resogun. Especially if you play them on PlayStation 4 and can download the popular Housemarque creation, which was once given away for free on PlayStation Plus, at any time. And after completing all the levels in Boiling Bolt, authored by the French team Persistent Studios, I want to play something much better as soon as possible.Boiling Bolt game review

Wherever you go, you will probably only make things worse.

Newbie problems

In the Boiling Bolt universe, the world was destroyed by war and divided into several islands that exist due to the power of crystals. Suddenly, a thousand years later, representatives of an evil organization attacked one of the islands, trying to extract energy and threatening the lives of ordinary people. A soldier named June boards her cannon-equipped ship and goes to fight the reptiles, which she will have to do for five whole levels.

The story is told through “cartoon” cutscenes in an anime-like style. They look better than in some Skylar & Plus, but they are still poorly made – they break off at the most interesting moments, do not contain any useful information and do not really tell anything about the characters, or the universe, or the conflict. Although it is ridiculous to demand high-quality storytelling from games of this genre, sometimes it is better not to focus on the story at all than to do everything in a slipshod manner.

The gameplay of the project is clearly trying to be like Resogun, but many of its elements fall short of this level of quality. Each level is a flight of a ship from one side to another, shooting enemies along the way and a battle with the “boss” in the final – a standard description of any shoot ’em up. However, strange design decisions immediately catch your eye here – for example, all the action takes place only in the very center of the screen, and the space above and below is not involved at all.

Another ridiculous feature of Boiling Bolt is related to the level structure – the path that the boat makes is somehow made too winding. The road either goes deeper, then shifts towards the player, then slightly curves, and because of this, it becomes more difficult to shoot at enemies flying from afar. In some places, this design seems unusual and original, but in most cases it simply gets in the way, because you don’t always understand whether your projectiles will reach the target or not.

The ship of the main character is able to shoot only in two directions: forward and backward. But there is always the opportunity to activate an alternative fire mode, of which there are only four. Two of them allow you to deal damage to all enemy ships around the player, although the range of the gun when using them is significantly reduced. There is also a shield that gives a chance to survive when taking damage, and a terribly inconvenient black hole activated by two clicks. When you are trying to dodge dozens of bullets flying at you, there is no time to think about something other than survival and ordinary shooting.

Boiling Bolt game review

Ship projectiles bounce off some surfaces.

You can escape from difficult situations with a dash, which, as stated in the tutorial, slows down time when used near an enemy or a projectile. In fact, it works one time out of ten, and the problem is not so much in the dash itself, but in too small a space for such maneuvers and in curved levels. From time to time there are enemies who fire ten bullets around them at once, and if there are several of them at the location at once, no jerks will help. Sometimes the game generally drives you into frames and forces you to survive for a minute in a narrow rectangle from which you can’t get out.

Empty and boring

The strange design could be forgiven if the gunfights were spectacular and exciting, like in Resogun. But in Boiling Bolt everything looks too casual – there are no ships flying into small pieces, the enemies are very similar to each other and often require a dozen hits, and in general the power of the cannon on the ship is not felt. You seem to be shooting, it seems to be killing someone, but it does not evoke emotions and quickly gets boring. Only fights with “bosses” are interesting, during which you wake up and start to get at least some pleasure, but their movements are sometimes too unpredictable, which is why you lose precious “lives” one after another.

But the problems of Boiling Bolt are not only related to the basic gameplay mechanics. Before the start of the first mission, the player is given a pack of crystals and allowed to purchase upgrades for the ship. Some increase defense, others increase attack, and others affect speed. It’s just that it doesn’t change anything at all. The character dies from a couple of hits, deals the same damage to opponents, and speed does not give any advantages. Some details worsen some characteristics, but improve others, but it is impossible to see the difference even in these cases. That is, the feeling of progress in the game is completely absent, which greatly affects the desire to replay levels and earn more and more impressive results.

After the completion of the single-player campaign, which ends in an hour, new modes are unlocked in the menu. You can, for example, restart individual tasks and earn steeper ratings. But the game does not explain in any way what exactly certain ranks are issued for. After dying a couple of times and destroying almost all the opponents, I got a D. After that, I scored a huge combo, never died, and almost completely finished the level, for which the game “generously” awarded a C grade. What did I do wrong and why The game didn’t seem to notice my efforts, and it didn’t become clear.

Boiling Bolt does not notice the user’s actions almost all the time, especially in challenge mode. In one of them, you need to collect all the crystals scattered on the location in the allotted time without dying or hitting black holes. I did everything that was required about ten times, but the time was running out, and a message appeared on the screen about the failure of the task. Almost all other tests are passed without problems, but everything related to the collection of crystals is either “buggy” or incorrectly explained. The second is quite possible – the game is full of typos both in the Russian version and in the English one. Even some trophies on PSN have illiterate names and descriptions.

Boiling Bolt game review

Against the background of Resogun, all this looks very sad.

***

There is also a cooperative mode here, but even for that, you should not pay attention to Boiling Bolt. It’s a very short game full of idiotic design choices, bugs and unfinished elements. But you just had to look in the direction of the developers from Housemarque – their Nex Machina, for example, can also be completed in an hour, but you want to start the levels again and again until you find all the secrets. And Resogun is fun to play both because of the gameplay and because of the visual component. Boiling Bolt does not even try to offer something of the same quality – it simply exists and does not stand out in anything special. And this is the most terrible sentence for any arcade game.

Pros: good battles with “bosses”.

Cons: short campaign; dreary levels; monotonous opponents; the grading system for passing is not explained in any way; the characteristics of the ship do not affect the gameplay in any way; a couple of “buggy” tests.

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