The Bug Butcher, developed by Awfully Nice Studios and published by Triangle Studios, is a side scrolling shooter taking place far away in an infested research space station. When the scientists can no longer control their specimens, and begin being slaughtered, everything falls on you, a small exterminator who goes by the name "The Bug Butcher," to save the day. Progress through waves and levels of swarming alien enemies as you attempt to obliterate them before they kill you. Eradicate the infestation and save the day, but most importantly, survive. You can buy the game on Steam for $7.99, or PlayStation Network or Xbox Marketplace for $9.99.
The side-scrolling action game performs as a shooter with no platforming characteristics. You won't be jumping around, traversing platforms in any fashion, nor will you even be shooting in multiple directions. In fact, the only direction you can shoot is straight up. The enemies will spawn in from one means or another (maybe by the floors, the walls, the ceilings, or maybe they are instantly birthed from a larger alien). You'll get an indicator on the screen notifying you where enemies are about to pop into action at. Once in, they begin moving in a systematic way from left to right. Attack patterns are key to focus on as you blast away at their unwanted existence; at some point, they come crashing down to stomp on you or they'll periodically release attacks that will.
It's not hard to calculate the angles they are in the projection of, and it's arguable to say it's incredibly easy to predict. The tricky and chaotic part arises as you have to deal with multiple enemies with varied movement patterns while trying to dash underneath them to shoot upwards. You'll need to quickly react to a barrage of movements and attacks with mixed amounts of speed, area of damage, and sheer number of enemies, all while cutting them down as much as possible with your weapon. Many of the enemies will burst into smaller versions of themselves, causing you to deal with then in masses as opposed to an initially smaller number of them who are larger in size.
As you blow aliens up, you'll find that they drop a few different items on the ground. Most commonly, you'll find gold coins scattered about, which when picked up can later be used to purchase upgrades. You can upgrade things within three different categories: weapons, power-ups, and perks. Many of the options are pretty expected such as extra health, combo boost, lightning gun, rockets, etc. The other items that will drop are short-term power-ups. Using them is as simple as walking into them, but they make a huge difference -once equipped. They could turn your bullets into large explosive rounds, speed boosts, or combo-timer assists.
Local co-op is an added bonus for everyone to have access to. Grab a friend if you can and start blasting away until your heart's content. The money is collected separately for the two of you and is used to purchase upgrades individually as well. Upon finishing the levels you'll be given a performance score and review which will also allow the two players to compare score, kills, combos, and revives. Yes, revives. If one of you go down during the missions, the other can quickly dash over to them and revive them, extending the fight for survival a little longer.
Sound and Graphics
In a complete science fiction style, the blasting shots of your high-tech weaponry are packed with the typical sounds you would expect to hear. I've found that some games in the past get incredibly annoying when you hear the shooting sound in fast succession and non-stop, but The Bug Butcher managed to make it sound pleasing to the ears. Each shot has a strong sound to it, depicting a strong stream of projectiles flying from the barrel of your gun. It makes everything feel like there's a purpose for your presence on the spacecraft. The music is a techno/electronic rhythmic one with a lot of robotic and space oriented sounds.
Prior to playing the game, I questioned how smooth the graphics and gameplay would be. Upon grabbing the controller and testing it all myself, I truly enjoyed it all. The looks are colorful and sharply defined, meaning no screen clutter from environments and all enemies are easily seen. The way the character runs across the ground is funny but cute in the sense that he looks like he has a bigger heart than he does size. He's the little guy who always wins, but shouldn't if you judge by appearances. A badass alien killer, you'll find he is an incredibly fun character to play as.
The overall performance of the game was greatly polished and tested. The game runs very well with little issues. As flooded as the screen can become at times with all the aliens, coins, pickups, and obstacles, you'd imagine it would get glitchy, but this was never an issue. Regardless of the amount of action going on, it ran just as anyone would expect a video game to run.
The Bug Butcher was definitely a surprising experience. It's incredibly simple idea of running underneath moving aliens as you blast upwards at them, matched with enough complexity in terms visuals to make it all a dramatic and chaotic experience, make for tons of entertaining gameplay. The controls are very simple as well, with very minimal efforts needed. The true challenge comes from quick reaction skills and general ability to calculate how each of the aliens is moving and attacking you. With a friend the game is astronomically more entertaining, but with the lack of online co-op, it takes a bit of a hit in that regards.
|+ Fast-paced action with quick reacting||– No online co-op|
|+ Beautiful art design and graphics||– Lacks deeper story telling|
|+ Easy to pick up and play|
|+ Simple leveling system|