Heavy Bullets is not exactly a new game. Originally released in 2014, it was played by quite a few streamers at the time of launch. I remember buying it during yet another sale, after it had been sitting on my wish list for a while and I can honestly say that I still think it’s worth every penny of it’s retail price (£6.99 on Steam & £7.49 on Humble Bundle).
You play a security program that has been sent in to restore order to a mainframe that has gone haywire. To do so you are equipped with a gun that only contains 6 bullets in some sort of Dirty Harry style gun. You must hold onto these six bullets as well as aim to pick up coins throughout the ten levels in order to buy some upgrades.
Heavy Bullets does not push the boundaries in aesthetics, but I really like the way it looks. It has a very distinct neon colour palette and is visually lucid and bright; the game nips along which is no surprise but it feels right at home at this speed. You can spot one of the bank or shop ATM’s immediately and the maps even randomly generate secrets, which I think is a pretty cool touch. I really love the way the graphics flicker whenever you get hit, along with the intentional visual glitches when you are on your last life, making the whole thing feel more tense.
It’s essentially a stripped down 3D-first person shooter, but there is something distinctly ominous about it. The music and general sound design certainly adds a lot to the atmosphere. In game it goes awfully quiet but as you roam around you get some very distinctive audible clues. The imps make a cute little chirping sound which you soon learn to be afraid of, as they launch themselves at you with great intensity. The game is rogue-like and so the enemies and the levels are randomised, which means that you have no idea what is around the corner. You may remember that I said that One More Dungeon really suffered from this, but for some reason it works in Heavy Bullets. There’s something about the smoothness of the game, along with the way it flows. I hate to put it down to feel but when you have played a fair few 3D shooters you begin to get a feel for which one’s work and which ones don’t.
Having a limited amount of ammo really adds to the atmosphere. I’m not sure how other people play it, but I end up paranoid reloading at every opportunity that I can. The first few enemies you meet are fairly easy, some worm like beasties that hide in the bushes which can sometimes be difficult to see, followed by some imps that run at you when they see you, which for me cause an instant amount of panic and tension. Further on you meet up with sentry guns that can only be killed if you shoot their battery. There are even flying enemies in the game. You can improve your chances of survival in further rounds by saving money in the bank, so the next time you play through you can dip into your account to help you out.
The money is generous enough, you don’t have to play 1000 games in order to afford one of the items. The shops can provide you with more health or upgrades to increase the radius of coin and bullet pickup, a discount in the shop and so on. The Steam community have put together a great little item guide so go have a look at them so you know what to buy from the ATM’s. Also a little thing I didn’t know is that you can blow up the ATM which gets you some extra cash. In theory you could do this early on to get extra cash and save up the money to make a proper attempt at the 10 levels.
It all comes down to the bullets though, they look and feel heavy when you fire them. When they hit something they lay on the floor and bounce their plump little form on the floor enticing you to pick them back up. Even when you reload them they make a satisfying thunk when re-entering the chamber. Upon reaching the end of a level, apart from me letting out a small joyous ‘whoop’, you’re not rewarded just yet. After all, you have a job to do here and need to get on with it. If and when you finish all 10 levels you are rewarded with $5,000 of in-game cash ready to spend to make your next attempt a lot easier, no doubt.
I already said at the top of the review that I think Heavy Bullets is well worth the money. Its slick feel takes me back to early days of Quake which makes it pure simple 3D-shooter fun. In a recent sale I saw it on offer for a mere £2 which is a total bargain. The soundtrack is well worth the extra money although trying to use Steam to play it filled me with rage, but this is more of a problem I have with Steam rather than the game. Unlike some rogue based games, Heavy Bullet punishes you in the right places and the right way, making you, the player, determined to improve your skill and ability to defeat those damn worms. In my opinion… just buy it already!
Have you played Heavy Bullets? Do you also feel it’s a great example of a 3D shooter? Have you managed to finish it (I haven’t!). Give us all of your comments below or contact us in one of the many other forms of Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.