June 16, 2014 7:25 PM | Anthony Swinnich
The return of Lazy Brain Games is heralded not by trumpets, but by guttural screams and schizophrenic tempo shifts. The developer released Level 2 The Virus Master, a collaboration with progressive metal band Last Chance To Reason that's sort of like Ghost in the Shell-meets-Between the Buried and Me-meets-R-Type.
Level 2 The Virus Master is a twin-stick or mouse pointing shooter, depending on your input of choice. The game is designed around two songs: Coded to Fail and Taking Control. The level progression was meticulously crafted to change as the music changes, and falling in line with it being a progressive metal song, it changes frequently. This means that you may be firing at a gigantic mechanical head that vomits mechanical shrimp at you one second, then falling downward as enemies come at you from the bottom of the screen the next.
Since the game is based on the music, dying doesn't cause you to restart. Things continue on whether you play well or not, though dying does affect your rank. The Virus Master is divided into four segments, and killing every enemy without dying in each segment will result in a 100% score, or S-rank. Missing an enemy or dying will reduce your score, and thus, your rank. Complete the game with the four proper ranks and you'll unlock a final segment. It's a challenging but ultimately attainable goal.
A great deal of effort was put into the presentation, most notably the way the enemies lip-sync with the vocals. I've never seen pixel-art enemies scream so accurately in a game before. It's not a lengthy experience, but it's a fantastic example of how to meld two completely different mediums into an experience all its own. You can pick it up over at Itch.Io for Windows, and you can even name your own price as well.
[Full disclosure: I am listed in the credits as a tester for this game and have worked with John Bell on a freeware project in the past]