In the world of roguelites, we’ve seen a few different styles of top down shooter grab our attention over the years. The pantheon already contains the likes of quality titles like Vlambeer’s Nuclear Throne and Dodge Roll’s Enter the Gungeon. So how do you improve upon what’s been done? Well, developer semiwork asks, what if the roguelite shooter arena had a deadly target that hunted you as much as you hunt it? Such is the state of Voidigo: a fun and colorful roguelite shooter that just entered early access.
Hunting the Void
Voidigo’s world is a bit of a mess. The forces of Void have taken over creatures of all kinds throughout various universes and corrupted them into crazed beasts. And so, a counter force known as the Antivoid has chosen a champion to fight back and destroy the corruption. Enter Drash, a curious bird-like creature chosen by the Antivoid. Drash’s memories of where she came from and how she was chosen are hazy, but she knows what lies before her. The Void must be stopped.
And so Voidigo sets players off on runs through various universes, destroying pillars of corruption and fighting against small creatures and massive monsters filled with the Void. In each level, players are set in a map of numerous sectors, not unlike that of early Monster Hunter’s segmented style. In each sector lays swarms of enemies and a pillar of Void to destroy, and once a handful of these are destroyed, a boss will appear and become active throughout the level. By destroying all the pillars of Void in a section, players unlock segments of the boss monster’s health bar that they will be able to deplete their attacks.
Once all Void is cleared, the Boss of the level can be killed, but it’s still not so simple. As the fight goes on, players may wish to flee and regain their strength or gather health, ammo, or new weapons and power-ups. The boss is also capable of running away and often will after enough of its health has been depleted. And so, Voidigo’s gameplay loop is a blend of chase and be chased through each section until the boss or the player is killed in a hail of bullet hell combat. Once you kill a boss, you move to a next, harder sector and do it all again with a chance to get some special power-ups between levels. The point is to survive as long as you can or make it to a final, difficult hunt to clear the run. I mentioned Monster Hunter’s sections but this loop also reminds me of that style and I found it very refreshing for roguelite top-down shooter to employ that sort of hunter-and-hunted methodology.
Tools of the hunt
As with any roguelite, players are somewhat left at the mercy of luck. Voidigo has a massive array of weapons and power-ups that can be discovered to augment your playstyle. Your combat abilities are split between melee weapons, firearms, and jumping attacks in which you can bounce off enemies and stun them. Everything you find in the game is an extension of these three basic styles of engagement.
There are melee weapons composed of large, slow, and heavy-hitting bludgeoners, as well as fast, quick, and rapid hitting smaller weapons. There are also firearms spread between pistols, shotguns, rifles, and machine guns. There are also numerous weapons in each category each with their own array of attack styles and affects. You might find yourself a spear made of a particularly sharp and long conch shell for fast stabbing or a shotgun capable of firing a multitude of bouncing gumballs. Some weapons feel less effective than others, but they’re all pretty fun to discover and try out.
Then there are the power-ups. Throughout levels you can discover challenges that will give you a selection of three power-ups, from which you can take one. Their effects range from giving your jumping bounce attack an elemental damage effect like fire or poison to making your gun firing and reloading or your melee swings faster. One of the weirdest, yet most highly viable was the Orphan Boy Ghost power-up. As sad as that sounds, collecting the power-up means the ghost will follow you around and his sad little wails will scare your character into firing their gun faster.
Yes. All of that is flavor for a faster rate of fire, but it’s also silly, fun, and things like this permeate Voidigo.
The bigger challenge is that in addition to each Void pillar and the boss, levels contain a multitude of challenges and chances at good power-ups and weapons. Do you dare venture into a challenge with less than full health on the risk of losing more before coming up against the boss? Is the possibility of a prize that would be a better weapon worth it? These are the questions Voidigo makes you ask as you challenge its colorful gauntlet and it’s a fun challenge with plenty of difficulties that range from casual to unlockable “Impossible” difficulty if you can beat lower difficulty runs.
My sword/gun for the Antivoid
As a fan of both Monster Hunter and roguelike shooters, I really enjoy what semiwork has put together here with Voidigo in early access. The bosses were a range of lightning-spewing shellfish, deadly thorn throwing plants, and a rabidly flailing giant insect capable of spawning smaller insects, just to name a few. And the fact that you can’t choose the boss you want to face means you never know what you’re going to get till it appears. Meanwhile, the weapons and power-ups are already a pretty fun arsenal with all sorts of mixing and matching to figure out what works best. I particularly loved a fire jump and bounce paired with an electric machine gun and great sword with a poison power-up, and it feels like other players will most certainly discover a loadout that becomes their ideal set for a good run as well. With Voidigo in early access now, I look forward to returning to this game over and over as semiwork expands the hunt against the Void further in the road ahead.
These impressions are based off of an early access copy provided by the publisher. Voidigo is available on PC in early access via Steam starting on February 25, 2021.
TJ Denzer posted a new article, Voidigo early access impressions: Adorabullet Hell
Interesting. It's like they grabbed what I disliked about Nuclear Throne and Enter The Gungeon (tiny cramped playfields and repeated traversal of empty rooms) and trashed it.