The authors of Void Bastards say that they created the game “under the influence of the masterpieces of BioShock and System Shock 2,” and thus introduce the public into some kind of delusion. Yes, the studio leader of the Blue Manchu – Jonathan Whose (Jonathan Chey), one of the co-founders of the Irrational Games is, which is known to have a direct relationship to the aforementioned masterpieces. And yes, in Void Bastards there is also a starship, intelligent AI, space and first-person shooter. But this is still not a gloomy sci-fi horror-action about the intense research of the ship and not “immersive-sim” about the dead dystopia, but funny, drawn in the style of comics, but at the same time quite hardcore “bagel” about survival. And he is good in himself – without any comparisons and associations.
Heroes of dry mixes
If we continue to talk about the nearest sources of inspiration, then we must immediately recall the FTL: Faster Than Light . In Void Bastards, we control a spacecraft that moves on a star map from sector to sector, along the way, bumping into other ships, trading stations, pirates who will haunt us and take on boarding, on some kind of debris or useful resources, on the black holes that are thrown to a random place, to bombs that blow up either us or everything around, and even to interdimensional whales who can easily devour our vessel.
To be more precise, we are not controlling the ship, but an amusing AI named BACS, the ship itself is a sort of ark on which prisoners are transported. And transported in the form of … dry mix. The ship was attacked by pirates and disabled the superlight drive – now you need to break through the expanses of the Sargasso Nebula and collect everything you need to start it again.
The AI itself cannot do this – corny there are no arms and legs. Therefore, he frees up (or rather, rehydrates from the mixture) one of the cons, gives him a ration of essential items and gives instructions in the spirit of “First make a fake citizen card so that we can perform authorized operations.” And when everything is done, he reports that, as a reward, the term of imprisonment will be reduced by 16 days – and this, he says, will noticeably shorten the term for forging a citizen card. “Now it needs to be registered, but the prisoner cannot work on an authorized computer, so find the parts to assemble the new computer and don’t forget about the wheel from the mouse,” reports BACS, after which our hero hangs his head weakly on the table.
Yes, there is such a bureaucracy and such a funny AI. It was voiced, by the way, by the same actor that gave a voice to the narrator from The Stanley Parable, so be sure, you will smile in Void Bastards more than once and not two.
However, when it comes to survival, it is no longer funny. Void Bastards – a fairly tough game, focused on the constant collection of resources and craft. First of all, you need fuel and food – they are spent on each turn when the ship moves to the next point on the star map. In addition, you have to collect a variety of items for the manufacture of equipment, weapons, various improvements, and gadgets. We find them mainly on ships, where you can disembark so that a shooter and stealth with a first-person view begin.
Kraft is total. If you want pistol cartridges in the living compartments of the ships, make one upgrade, but to find clips for the hole-hole (there is such a gun here), you need another one. If you want a bullet-proof vest, increased ammunition, protection against radiation, the ability to crack turrets – kindly find, assemble and welcome to the workbench. And practically all this still needs to be upgraded.
In addition to key parts (light bulbs, trays, tin cans, compressors, various books and manuals, even enemas), we also collect all kinds of garbage – batteries, pens, punched cards, and severed fingers of enemies. Then it is all recycled, and again we make those parts from raw materials. To make it easier to find the right resources, you can turn on a locator that indicates where the item is located. But what do you have to do first? That’s right, find the parts for making this very locator.
The main events, as you already understood, are unfolding on ships of different types – somewhere there is a lot of food and detail, but also full of enemies and turrets, somewhere there are medical machines that restore health or scarce warp keys, but everything can be filled with oil, on which the hero constantly slides. And almost everywhere the camera – once in their lens, you risk activating a very dangerous security robot.
But at the very Void Bastards feature one – an innate ability to carry away. This is one of the coolest indie games of this year – and stylish, and fun, and complex, and interesting, built on other people’s ideas, but creatively reworked them and equipped with their own details and humor. Yes, there is one more feature of all the “bagels” – the farther and harder, the more grind and repetition, which, as we know, is the mother of learning. But due to the fact that each outing is always a combustible mixture of planning, action, and stealth, and each new hero can accidentally become a half-blind greedy, it is very difficult to get bored here. Although to introduce more types of enemies and random events on the map would still not hurt.
Pros: fascinating gameplay, combining the ideas of a variety of games and mixing them with their own developments; original ironic setting; more than relevant humor; hilarious AI named BACS; a decent arsenal of weapons, items, and gadgets; comic style picture; a great job with the sound.
Cons: I would like more diverse opponents and situations on the global map; grind in places begins to tire.