XBLIG – Astralis

If you’ve read my little round-up post, you’ll know I didn’t find very much to like in my recent browse, but the thing with XBLIG is that occasionally it throws up a surprising gem.

That gem this week is Astralis – it’s a third person shooter, and it IS pretty basic – there are four or maybe 5 enemy types, and difficulty is handled by simply throwing more of them at you, and on hard mode making them take more hits and making ammunition scarce.

You play some kind of ranger who has been sent to a refinery planet overrun by aliens.    The game involves running around the map to various objective points, purging all the aliens and judging those you meet.  There are 8 weapons including grenade types, plus a chargeable pistol you always have available. Enemies may drop orbs which contain extra ammunition, and crates around the map can contain ammo or different guns – refills are based on the weapons you’re carrying.

Sounds pretty basic and it is.  The reason I’ve decided to highlight this one as an item of interest, is the amount of effort that clearly went into the game.  The graphics are primitive, but the actual game map feels pretty atmospheric – it’s very sparse but every now and then you come across buildings or a lake, and these help to give it a fairly desolate character.  The audio is subdued but effective, tunes fade in during dialogue or encounters, but other than that it’s backing effects.  The map is also *huge*, honestly if you more or less speed run the game on hard, it’s going to take nearly an hour and a lot of that is running.  Speaking of running and moving, the controls are spot on – they’re responsive and they’ve made the wise decision of you not having to hold sprint, just press it once and off you go.  The controls are responsive in part due to an absolutely solid 60fps frame rate.  Please could professional game makers take note – losing graphical fidelity is worth it for a fluid game experience.  Of course we all know that from Call Of Duty, but it’s nice seeing an indie take the same approach.

Here’s approximately 20 minutes of me running around and shooting clusters of aliens.  Honestly it’s worth trying this one out, and it only costs 69 pence.  I hope the people who made it actually make enough money that they have another stab at game making, because I definitely got my moneysworth of fun, and even played through again on the hardest difficulty. I’d recommend playing it on that setting, because it forces you to switch weapons a lot more and even fall back on the pistol several times, and it makes the game a lot more fun as a result.