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[Review] Void Bastards

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Inspired by BioShock and System Shock 2, Void Bastards is a revolutionary new Strategy-Shooter that will test your wits as well as exercise your aim.

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Can you lead the misfit prisoners of the Void Ark through the derelict spaceships and myriad dangers of the Sargasso Nebula? Will you make the right choices about what to do, where to go and when to fight? Master combat, manage ship controls, scavenge supplies, craft improvised tools and much more!

Forget everything you know about first-person shooters: Void Bastards asks you to take charge, not just point your gun and fire. Your task is to lead the rag-tag Void Bastards out of the Sargasso Nebula. You make the decisions: where to go, what to do and who to fight. And then you must carry out that strategy in the face of strange and terrible enemies.

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On board derelict spaceships you’ll plan your mission, taking note of the ship layout, what hazards and enemies you might encounter and what terminals and other ship systems you can use to your advantage..

Ever since BioShock Infinite released and Irrational in its previous form went away, I've gladly played any games that offer a comparable experience. That is, a first-person shooter where you have more at your disposal than just cool guns. Void Bastards is described as a strategy shooter inspired by System Shock 2 and BioShock, and it features the talents of some former Irrational staff that previously made 2013's Card Hunter. It replicates the feeling of the combat in those games in some ways, but also recalls FTL and 2017's Heat Signature, and has its own strange humour that tonally sets it apart.

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Move carefully through the dangerous ships, searching for supplies and mani[CENSORED]ting control systems. React to what you find - will you detour to the generator to bring the power back online or will you fight your way into the security module to disable the ship’s defenses? Choose carefully when to fight, when to run and when just to be a bastard.

You are a prisoner, travelling across the galaxy to please the whims of a HR computer that might eventually grant you your freedom. You get across space with an FTL-style map interface, and while most locations are enemy spaceships that you can board, loot and subsequently escape, there are also stores, asteroid ranges and deadly hazards to be aware of. Mostly, though, your time is spent navigating these ships in first-person, looking for specific items to progress, then escaping before you're killed.

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Use your hard won supplies to improvise tools and weapons, from the distracting robo-kitty to the horribly unstable clusterflak.

Your character has pre-existing perks, both positive and negative, and if you die, you play as another disposable criminal with different perks. A negative perk might be your character coughing every now and then, attracting enemy attention, or being more easily detected by security cameras and gun turrets. A positive one might be better aim, or a higher chance of a critical shot.

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Navigate your tiny escape pod through the vast nebula. Flee from void whales and pirates, and politely avoid the hungry hermits. All the while you must keep scavenging for the food, fuel, and other resources that keep you alive.

The levels are partly procedurally generated: the maps of the different ships you'll board stay the same, but walls, enemy locations, obstacles and more will change each time. This means you can roughly learn where you're going on each ship (usually to the helm, where you can download a map of where all the loot is on a given ship), but that you can't really be certain of what you'll go up against.

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Void Bastards features a 12-15 hour campaign that you can complete with an endless supply of prisoners, each with their own unique traits. When one dies, another steps forward to carry on the fight. Don’t worry though, as any crafting progress you’ve made is retained from one to another.

While there is a stealth element to Void Bastards, it's mostly about shooting weird, British aliens in tight corridors and rooms. The standard immersive sim elements are here in some form: you can hack turrets to fight on your side, take out security cameras, or shut down security entirely from a terminal on the ship. What you can control on each ship is partly determined by a currency called merits, which only last for a single playthrough—so every turret you convert to your side has a cost. You might also spend some merits for a combat boost, too. Some loot containers only open if you spend a bunch of merits, and what's inside is usually worth it.

 

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