Anti--shmup? What is that supposed to be? Well, it's what happens when you get stuck in a hail of gunfire with a ship with no guns, dodging shots while praying your enemies get tired of shooting you or die from some other means. In Dark Stars, praying is an apt word choice as you find yourself the harbinger of an infernal beast whose history stems from the ancient beginnings of the shattered religion of the civilizations that are attacking you. As the harbinger of this monstrosity, you have the power to steal souls from a distance and give them over to it, attacking your enemies with its god-like power instead of something as trifling as a laser gun.

Anti-shmups sounds pretty awesome right now.


In Dark Stars, you need to get close. Real close. If you can get near an enemy ship, your soul-stealing power will activate, slowly killing the crew and using their life force to fuel your ship's health bar. There is a better use of this bar than just keeping you alive, though, as you can give these souls over to the evil being, known as the Maw, and use it in combat. The Maw creates a barrier around where it is summoned, consuming enemy fire and enemy crews, leaving you safe while casting enemy ships adrift, filled with corpses. Still, using this power depletes your health, leaving you in a vulnerable state if you move from the Maw's protective powers.

There also tends to be unwanted side-effects to drawing on this kind of unholy strength. Developer Alex Hiatt hasn't said what these may be, but given how much work is going into the story of the game, these effects should be interesting. Drawing from religious symbols and icons, Dark Stars tells a story of a forgotten religious conflict that unites the various groups you're fighting with, connecting narrative, characters, and gameplay through the spectre of the Maw. You can help out with its Kickstarter if you get in on it quick (it ends tomorrow), but otherwise, you can just keep your eye on this unique (anti) shmup as it heads toward its eventual release.

For more information on Dark Stars and developer Alex Hiatt, you can head to the game's site or follow them on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.