Resogun preview: bullet heaven

Developer Housemarque has had plenty of experience refining the bullet hell genre. The makers of Super Stardust brought their latest schmup to this year's IndieCade and I eagerly picked up a DualShock 4 to try out Resogun.

I'm somewhat pleased to say that Resogun blew me away--and by that, I mean that the game's insane amount of enemies quickly blew my ship out of existence. This is an old-school arcade-like twin-stick shooter in every possible way, right down to the brutal difficulty.

Resogun takes place on a cylindrical playing field, which means that staying alive isn't a matter of simply shooting what's in front of you. Players have to be aware of what's behind them, as well. While I was able to handle waves of enemy ships in front of me, I'd often back my ship up and collide with an enemy ship or a piece of falling debris. Dying is very easy in Resogun, but like the best games in the genre, the urge is always there to pick yourself up by the straps and try again.

There are ways to help prolong your life, even if it's only for a few extra seconds. There's a helpful dash mechanic that allows you to speed past waves of ships, which lets you turn around and dish out punishment before the enemy can react. And if you do find yourself surrounded, there are bombs that can clear out surrounding foes. You'll need to familiarize yourself with these two functions, each tied to a different shoulder trigger, if you have any hope of staying alive.

Players can also pick up power-ups by saving humans stranded on the ground, with some having the immediate effect of improving your firing rate. If you can continue to destroy enemies without taking a break, you'll build up your multiplier--crucial if you want a chance at cracking the leaderboards.

The demo ends with a screen-filling boss ripped from Ikaruga, which has you blasting away at vulnerable cores of a rotating gear. You could take your time and try to attack from afar, but it's obviously more fun to go in for the close kill. Once you find an entry, you can navigate inside the machine while dodging the occasional laser blast.

Where Resogun truly shines is in how gorgeous the game looks. It runs at a full 60fps and 1080p, creating some truly magnificent environments, backgrounds, and detailed character models that all move a mile a minute. The action never lets up and there's never any sign of lag or slowdown. In fact, there's so much going on that it's easy to get distracted by it all, which undoubtedly contributes to the game's difficulty.

Resogun will be ready for the PS4's launch and will be available for free to PlayStation Plus members as part of the Instant Game Collection.