Title: The Bug Butcher
Platform: Steam, Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS & Android (Planned)]
Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Arcade, Shoot ‘Em Up
Players: Single player, 2 Player Local Co Op
Written by Whistler 31st January 2016
It’s always interesting to see what genres survive the test of time and improve past their 8 bit arcade days, no longer limited to two buttons or roughly three colours and at best a 20 second loop of beeps.
Then there are those that merely emulate old formulas, not necessarily a bad idea but sometimes there are genres that need more than a new paint job to hide how archaic the gameplay has become.
The Bug Butcher by Awfully Nice Studios is a side scrolling shoot ‘em up that emphasizes on verticality à la Space Invaders and has been given a splash of paint conjuring similarities with Alien Hominid.
Plot’s as thin as they come, you’re Harry the bug exterminator who’s been tasked with helping some scientists clear out a rather hefty infestation problem. The single player consists of moving through the experimental facility consisting of five areas that are further divvied up into five levels each. In each level you simply need to decimate all waves of incoming aliens before moving onwards.
Gameplay has been boiled down into its simplest elements where you simply move left or right in a contained arena where it seems Harry’s neck is rather stiff as you can only shoot upwards at the bouncing and flying mobs likened to that of the previously mentioned Space Invaders or more so Super Pang (Super Pang Bros in Europe).
The Bug Butcher’s difficulty is derived from learning each of the colourful bugger’s patterns, some bounce towards the player in arcs, others fly around Galaga style and then some will even burst into smaller chunks to create more chaos. Balance is forced on the player as you attempt to take them down or maintain your chain without throwing yourself into harm’s way. However I feel this in turn holds the game back, in retaining the old style without really expanding just increased how fast TBB began to really grind to a slog despite its relatively short length. Along with a special gauge to unleash some damage there are of course your stand power ups such as health replenishments or increased fire rate but nothing new or interesting. Mechanically the game just lacks depth I expect in shoot ‘em up especially today, after a couple of stages I just felt like I was repeating the same notions had already seen all there was to see.
The arenas do change over time and stages can vastly dictate the style you’ll need to adapt to such as laser walls, dropping platforms or fire spewing forth from the sides. But honestly this doesn’t impact the gameplay in a positive enough matter to really change the overly simplistic design.
The art style does deserve mentioning however, the sharp cartoonish visuals really make the colourful and deceptively cuddly bugs pop out at the screen and help the player easily recognize each mob type.
While it isn’t graphically fantastic the aesthetics are nice and consistent that gel well with the ost’s punchy techno beats and rhythms.
When a game relies almost entirely on gameplay to keep you playing it requires the right bells and whistles to keep you playing after the initial handful of sessions. However The Bug Butcher falls incredibly short of the mark, lacking in both substantial amounts of content and variety to keep the experience fresh. Considering free games, flash games and plenty of other indie titles with the same kind of backing are considerably better in offering more upgrades, weapon customization or meaningful character upgrades it’s a wonder why the devs didn’t consider fleshing out these elements.
The Bug Butcher is a fun title but due to relying so much on replayability it doesn’t provide enough variety or content to sustain the enjoyment for anywhere near enough time. The culmination of archaic gameplay mechanics, lack of expanding on cemented formulas and content only expedite the retrogradation. While mechanically sound it’s a fun bubble gum experience but one that only gets worse the longer you chew.
Easy to pick up yet respectable difficulty,
Lack of content depreciates the enjoyment,
Upgrades are disappointing and lack impact,
Archaic gameplay elements hold the game back.
The Bug Butcher shoots its way to a 6/10.