Deathstate: Abyssal Edition
Developed and Published By: Bread Machine
Category: Roguelike Bullet Hell
Release Date: 09.17.2019
Deathstate: Abyssal Edition is an isometric bullet hell roguelike in which you play as various characters as you delve into hellish settings filled with monsters and creatures that you must fight off as you progress from level to level. With bright colors and detailed sprites, you will be enthralled not only by the fast-paced action, but also by the brilliant stages. Although the game offers the scenery you would want in a title like this, the stages are rather empty (outside of enemies) and the gameplay is a little bland.
You play as a ragtag group of characters who are attempting to discover what happened to Professor Elinburg. The good professor is who opened up this portal to the abyss, so it is up to you to venture in and try to catch up before it is too late. The characters have seemingly no reason to be here together, as well as very little to do with each other. They are unlocked through pick-ups in the abyss, and that is about the extent of it. Characters have different ways in which they play, with abilities that change from person to person, but beyond those special abilities and the actual art for them each character is pretty cookie cutter.
Gameplay consists of dodging incoming enemies and launched projectiles, as well as maintaining your health and utilizing your abilities. You character auto-fires at whichever enemy is closest, so you won’t have to hold any buttons down there. Things will get pretty busy on the screen though, so not having to keep track of this or aiming is kind of nice even though it takes away some choice. Dodging is as simple as moving your character around the screen, and with a dodge mechanic as well things manage fairly well. As I mentioned, at later stages especially the screen will be filled with projectiles and enemies, so being able to focus on dodging around is a plus.
Abilities you can use are gained through enemy drops and chest loot while playing through the levels. You can also grab new characters, or switch to more powerful characters on the fly while making your trek downwards. Abilities can be anything from a health regeneration, to increased or a different type of projectiles, to invincibility or shielding. These abilities run on a cool down timer, as well as with mana usage, so picking up orbs dropped by enemies will be crucial.
These orbs consist red and blue variations. Red orbs give you health back and the blue ones increase mana. Health and mana are a stat that can be increased through you run as well, and early game it’s definitely an issue you will have to watch closely.
Enemy types vary pretty greatly, from the normal skeleton enemy all the way to mushroom people and floating eyes. Each branch of character also has increasing types of difficulty, whether they be faster, stronger, or have a special ability of their own. The sprite work is killer as well, and these enemies are a lot of fun to tackle, even though you will be mostly staring at the screen while your character takes them out for you.
You can also collect data from each enemy and ability you find or unlock. In the library section of the starting section you will find large tomes filled with all sorts of information on everything you are finding in the game. This is really helpful, as the game doesn’t spell anything out for you during the runs themselves, so being able to familiarize yourself with what is happening for future runs is a nice touch that really helps the user get more prepared in the future.
The art and soundtrack in this one are very well done, with some superb pixel sprite work on the characters and enemies. Stages themselves are lackluster and empty however, which is surprising when considering how well the art is made elsewhere. You basically just have empty arenas to run around in, with walls and corridors, and that is about the gist of it. Nothing much to do besides plow through enemy hordes and work towards the portal to the next level. Chests allow for something else to move towards, and high-level enemies offer good loot at times, but the art was pretty much left to the character designs. Music-wise a pumping soundtrack matches up with the action throughout and is a really appreciated touch.
Overall, Deathstate: Abyssal Edition offers some fun gameplay that is fairly comparable to Enter the Gungeon. However, none of the charm or level design that made Enter the Gungeon a complete package are present in this on, so if you are looking for just pure gameplay then you might find this one at home in your library, but otherwise this may be one you want to think a bit more about before taking the plunge.
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*The Switch Effect was provided a code for this game*