November 17, 2015 1:10 PM | John Bridgman
Space is great. I think that's a pretty common opinion, as there's quite a fair bit you can do with a space setting. That said, I didn't expect to see a game about harpooning giant space sea monsters while riding on rockets. That's where Blacksea Odyssey, an overhead twin-stick shooter title which is now on Kickstarter, comes in. It's got a playable alpha demo and so far I am extremely impressed.
Thoroughly committed to its theme, the demo gives you a brief tutorial on controlling your ship and managing your inventory before thrusting you headlong into the action. And even in its alpha state, the action is intense. The main mechanic of the game is to wear down giant space creatures with spears, harpooning onto them, and ripping off parts once they are worn down enough. All the while you'll be frantically dodging projectiles and melee attacks from the monster you're hunting. It's so satisfying to work on a weak point, tear it away, and work away on the next part.
You'll also receive upgrades in the form of runes which give buffs to your abilities, including faster attacks, more boost, or extra damage, as well as other effects such as periodic fireballs from your ship. There are also the consumable items to use, in case things start to turn south as you're fighting. These items come either from chests which you can unlock in the hunting grounds by finding keys, or by purchasing them from the shop using your rewards from collecting bounties.
Even early on, the game feels really smooth to control. The controls are responsive, even with keyboard and mouse, and they never seem to come close to getting in the way. For an alpha demo, there's already a high level of polish mechanically, and I can only assume it's going to get better. Animations are smooth and distinct, with the game always giving you a clear indication of what's going on, and the UI, while minimal currently, gives you all the necessarily information at a moment's glance, letting you focus on action.
Speaking of the UI, the minimap radar is particularly interesting. In addition to its expected functionality of showing you the location of things you can't immediately see, it gives a sheer sense of scale to the monster that you're hunting. And these monsters are massive. As you fly around you will see a gigantic red figure on your radar, and that's how the game indicates to you that you're about to get stuck into the action. It's a useful indicator to the player to get ready without being an obtrusive warning.
Aesthetically it looks really good too, with bold colours contrasting against the blackness of space, and a cast of unique hunters to go on your hunts with. The monsters, as I stated, are huge and sometimes downright bizarre, as fits the theme too, and thanks to their size and the smooth animations, their attack patterns and behaviours can be learned by an observant player without making the action lapse. There's also a really fun, high energy soundtrack accompanying the action that wraps the whole thing up in a fantastic, fun, frenetic package.
I am really excited about Blacksea Odyssey after playing the alpha demo. I look forward to seeing this game progress as I think it's already a lot of fun, and it looks like the team are committed to making it as polished and intense as possible. If you're looking to play some twin-stick shooting action, I recommend giving the demo a try, and also keeping an eye on how their surprisingly modest Kickstarter goes.