Reviews - Updated on April 10, 2022

The authors of Void Bastards say that they created the game “influenced by the masterpieces of BioShock and System Shock 2” – and thereby mislead the public. Yes, the leader of the Blue Manchu studio is Jonathan Chey, one of the co-founders of Irrational Games, which, as you know, was most directly related to the above-mentioned masterpieces. And yes, Void Bastards also has a starship, sentient AI, space, and a first-person shooter. But this is still not a gloomy sci-fi horror action about an intense exploration of the ship and not an “immersive sim” about a lost dystopia, but a fun, comic-style, but at the same time quite hardcore “roguelike” about survival. And he is good in itself – without any comparisons and associations.

dry mix heroes

If we continue to talk about the nearest sources of inspiration, then we must immediately recall FTL: Faster Than Light. In Void Bastards, we control a space ship that moves across the star map from sector to sector, bumping into other ships, trading stations, pirates who will chase us and board us, some debris or useful resources, on black holes that are thrown to a random place, on bombs that blow up either us or everything around us – and even interdimensional whales that can easily gobble up our vessel.

To be more precise, it’s not us who control the ship, but a funny AI named BACS, the ship itself is a kind of ark on which prisoners are transported. Moreover, they are transported in the form of … a dry mixture. Pirates attacked the ship and disabled the FTL drive – now you need to break through the expanses of the Sargasso Nebula and collect everything you need to start it again.

AI itself cannot do this – there are simply no arms and legs. Therefore, he releases (or rather, rehydrates from the mixture) one of the prisoners, gives him a ration of basic necessities and gives instructions in the spirit of “Make a fake citizen card first so that we can perform authorized operations.” And when everything is done, he reports that as a reward, the term of imprisonment will be reduced by 16 days – and this, they say, will significantly reduce the term for forging a citizen’s card. “Now it needs to be registered, but the prisoner cannot work on an authorized computer, so find the parts to assemble a new computer, and don’t forget about the mouse wheel,” BACS reports, after which our hero drops his head on the table exhaustedly.

Yes, here is such a bureaucracy and such a humorous AI. By the way, he was voiced by the same actor who gave the voice to the narrator from The Stanley Parable, so, be sure, you will smile in Void Bastards more than once or twice.

Void Bastards game review

This is what peripheral blindness looks like.

crazy hands

However, when it comes to survival, it is no longer a laughing matter. Void Bastards is a fairly tough game focused on constant resource gathering and crafting. First of all, fuel and food are needed – they are spent on each turn when the ship moves to the next point on the star map. In addition, you will have to collect a variety of items for the manufacture of equipment, weapons, various improvements and gadgets. We find them mainly on ships where you can land to start a shooter and stealth with a first-person view.

Craft here is total. If you want pistol cartridges to come across in the living quarters of ships, make one upgrade, but to find paper clips for a hole puncher (there is such a gun here), you need another. If you want a bulletproof vest, increased ammunition, radiation protection, the ability to hack turrets – please, find, collect and welcome to the workbench. And almost everything still needs to be upgraded.

In addition to key parts (light bulbs, trays, tins, compressors, various books and manuals, even enemas), we also collect all sorts of garbage – batteries, pens, punched cards and torn off fingers of enemies. Then we process it all, and again we make the same parts from raw materials. To make it easier to find the resources you need, you can turn on a locator that indicates where the item you need is located. But what do you have to do first? That’s right, find the details for the manufacture of this very locator.

On board!

The main events, as you already understood, unfold on ships of different types – somewhere there is a lot of food and parts, but also full of enemies and turrets, somewhere there are medical machines that restore health, or scarce warp keys, but everything can be there filled with oil, on which the hero constantly slides. And cameras are almost everywhere – once you get into their lens, you risk activating a very dangerous security robot.Void Bastards game review

You can’t go back on the map.

In addition, there is a power outage – you first have to restore it, then rush to the captain’s bridge and load a more detailed map indicating where the precious part for upgrading the Klepalo cannon, which shoots a hail of rivets, is located. Although it is better not to run – the noise attracts the attention of various enemies. Therefore, you often have to crouch to move around, shoot poisonous spikes that poison but do not attract attention, or distract opponents with the help of a robo-cat that explodes when destroyed. I’m telling you, it’s fun.

But often there is no other choice but to run – oxygen supplies are limited, and they can be replenished only at special machines somewhere on the other end of the ship. In the same place for the local currency – incentives allow you to temporarily increase oxygen supplies. The same, by the way, can be done with health at medical stations. And incentives, among other things, are needed to open some locked cabinets and get the coveted duct tape to upgrade your shocker.

Look after yourself, be careful!

As a result, each landing is always clear planning. Here I will first turn on the power, through these doors I will get into the security room and temporarily disable the turrets, then I will go into this corridor and to the bridge. Or not, is it better to run here first and replenish oxygen supplies? Yeah, but here you can look into the ship’s canteen and drink tea there – it gives a temporary increase in damage. And do not forget to close the doors behind you, because some opponents do not know how to open them. Or better yet, throw a flayer charge there first, which explodes when approached – Void Bastards encourages creativity in destroying opponents.

Planning is the key to success, but something can always go wrong here, especially considering that the default location of opponents on the map is not displayed. And in especially dangerous situations, you have to drape as fast as you can, just to bring the trophies to the coveted gateway and escape with the loot. More than once or twice, on parole and on the same wing, I ran away, experiencing sincere joy and excitement from the fact that yes, I fucking did it!

Void Bastards game review

Outwardly, all this is very similar to the old XIII shooter.

The farther, the deeper we plunge into the layers of the Sargasso Nebula, and there it becomes more and more difficult – we have to do serious planning already on the global map. It is necessary to lay the route in such a way as to avoid pirates, bombs, “interdimensional whales” and other dangers. Fuel is left for one turn, without it the ship will drift, and we will lose health and food. And a merciless “random” determined that there is a lot of food on that ship, but there is no power and the mini-map does not work, and this one has a medical bay, but there are many places under current and the boss is wandering somewhere along the corridors. Where to go?

Every person is special!

In such a situation, it will not work to always get out of the water dry and run away with enemies on your tail. Our humorous AI itself says that death is a common procedure. To replace the deceased, he revives a new prisoner. In Void Bastards, a new character does not start all over again – all the items and upgrades made by the previous comrade are preserved (well, except for food, fuel and ammunition), and all completed story missions too – we will continue the story from where we left off.

The most interesting thing is that the new hero always receives unique traits. One has limited peripheral vision; the other has raking hands, allowing him to collect nearby objects on his own, but due to innate absent-mindedness, he is not able to assess the health of enemies; the third has the Technician trait, which reveals all the dangers on the map, but he smokes a lot and therefore has a small supply of oxygen.

Some ships have gene stations that, for a certain amount, can remove a bad feature or give us a good one. In addition, gene anomalies occur periodically on the map, which randomly change the set of personal characteristics of the next hero – and not always for the better.

You can die very quickly here.

***

But Void Bastards itself has one trait – the innate ability to captivate. This is one of the coolest indie games of this year – both stylish and fun, and complex, and interesting, built on other people’s ideas, but creatively reworked them and provided their own details and humor. Yes, there is one more feature of all “bagels” – the further and more difficult, the more grind and repetition, which, as you know, is the mother of learning. But due to the fact that each outing is always a combustible mixture of planning, action and stealth, and each new hero can accidentally become a half-blind greedy, it is very difficult to get bored here. Although it would not hurt to introduce more types of enemies and random events on the map.

Pros: Exciting gameplay that combines ideas from a variety of games and mixes them with their own developments; original ironic setting; more than appropriate humor; hilarious AI called BACS; a decent arsenal of weapons, items and gadgets; comic style picture; great sound work.

Cons: I would like more diverse opponents and situations on the global map; the grind starts to tire in places.

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