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The shmup is not a genre I've ever really gotten into. I don't have the best reflexes or pattern recognition, and I get easily overwhelmed. I still try my best to appreciate the genre and its appeals, and whenever something catches my eye that seems a little bit different in some way in the genre, I'm compelled to give it a shot. It looks like Reign of Bullets, the upcoming shmup from Critical Bit, certainly looks different enough to make me want to get into it when it launches on Windows and Mac through Steam on August 19th.

For starters, Reign of Bullets looks different than a lot of shmups I've seen. Bright and colourful, with a comic book feel to it, and an extremely high level of detail that I think can appeal to a lot of people. The sprites are surprisingly large, which could be a difficult sell to fans of the genre, where usually smaller sprites (and thus hitboxes) are preferable. A variety of environments and environmental factors are in the game too, which are lovingly drawn like the rest of the game. This game is genuinely enjoyable to look at, both in still images and in motion.


The music and sound effects shown in the trailer are also really good. I hope this is indicative of the soundtrack itself, as it seems like just the sort of high energy ambient music that could really get you into the right frame of mind to get yourself lost in a shmup. Meanwhile the sound effects are ideal as well, zapping lasers and explosions to accentuate the game as you blast away at everything in your path.

You play as a humble mechanic named Troy, leading a modest life with a small garage to your name until it was destroyed in the rapid and soulless expansion of the Titan Corporation. Not being the sort to take corporate interference lightly, you take to the skies in an old jet you happen to have lying around and start blasting, to collect loot and scrap in order to upgrade your jet and take on Titan directly as you do so.

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The upgrade system looks like a lot of fun. You can place an assortment of guns and launchers on your jet, angled in any direction you want to make for a variety of attack angles. Those guns can be upgraded to have different functions, from single shot rifles to miniguns, lasers, or even drone launchers. And these can be modded in lots of ways as well. It looks like there's going to be a great variety of gameplay, and that's definitely something I look forward to.

It features a campaign mode to combat Titan of course, and as you defeat bosses you acquire new powerful weapons and loot as you unlock new levels and ways to engage in your campaign. On top of that, there's a procedurally generated infinite wave mode to play, where you can see how far you can fight off the swarms.

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Even though I'm not a shmup fan, there's enough going on with Reign of Bullets that I am really interested to see it upon release. The upgrade and customization systems alone are generally going to get my attention, and I think people who like tinkering with builds and trying new things in action games will be drawn to this. I'm sure dedicated shmup fans will want to have this on their radar too, of course.