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Game Info:

Voidrun
Developed By: Benjamin Soule, Pentadrangle
Published By: Benjamin Soule
Released: June 5, 2019
Available On: Windows
Genre: Arcade
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: Single-player
Price: $8.99

Voidrun is a rogue-lite with fresh ideas. To kill enemies, instead of shooting them with a pistol or some other weapon, you surround them with orbs called ‘void balls’ to break the enemy and the ground underneath them. This kind of system has only been used a couple of times to my knowledge; Qix, an old Atari arcade game, and Pokémon Ranger for the DS. Voidrun does this mechanic very well and really changes up the tired and oversaturated rogue-lite genre.

There are 3 different modes in the game. Most of my playtime has been in the classic (rogue-lite) mode, but there’s also arcade and adventure. The biggest and pretty much only consistency between the modes is your method for killing enemies. You place void balls on the ground and create a circle of them around an enemy. Once the circle is complete, it breaks the ground and the enemy, leaving a hole depending on the size of the circle you made. It's all about trapping the enemy.

The adventure mode seems to be the most forgiving of the 3 modes, although still difficult. You play through levels on a node map and unlock various power-ups and extra lives. There's a bit of a story to follow but not much of one. This is the only mode without permanent death. For people looking for a more casual experience, adventure mode is your choice.

Voidrun
Highlights:

Strong Points: Innovative; replayable; polished
Weak Points: Graphics can be hard to see; slower pacing; niche and not for everyone
Moral Warnings: Plot is questionable; violence against robots and various creatures; destroying full planets is genocide with no obvious motive

Arcade mode gives you 4 power-ups and then puts you in a single large map and pits you against all the enemies the game has to offer. The map is mostly just a large, blank ground. Score is calculated by how many extra void balls you have and of course enemy kills. It has a waves system with a timer. When the timer hits zero, you lose your extra void balls and a few more enemies will spawn into the map. There’s no online leaderboard, unfortunately, so you’ll only be trying to beat yourself here.

Classic mode is the rogue-lite mode. You’re asked to destroy 4 randomly generated planets to assume victory. Each time you destroy a planet you have to get rid of one of your power-ups. Unlike most games in the genre, or most games at all, you’ll become less powerful the further you get. I haven’t seen another game do this system well, and it works here. Unfortunately, this system makes every run feel pretty similar near the end.

Planet variety and enemy variety are good. There are about 10 different planets, each with unique characteristics. A large chunk of the enemies are snakes of some sort, but there are also tanks, robots, and even little flame balls. Most enemies require a bit of a different approach to kill, making the gameplay on each planet just slightly different.

One of Voidrun’s biggest issues is rooted deep within the core gameplay loop. I mentioned being able to get extra void balls, and the way you do that is by breaking up the ground to find canisters. The levels are randomly generated, which means the placement of these canisters is also random. The first half of your time in a level is always running around looking for these canisters. Mind you, there’s plenty of them to go around, and they aren’t a rarity, but it does stall the pace of the game quite a lot. Enemies are designed around this system as well, with most of them being too large or too fast to kill with the starting amount of void balls. Personally, this doesn’t hurt my enjoyment of the game, but it could turn a lot of people away.

Voidrun
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 84%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 82%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7.5/10

Despite this major problem, Voidrun succeeds in making the other half of the gameplay incredibly satisfying. When you trap an enemy it has a great 'oomph' feeling to it. The game goes from a slow crawl of scavenging for canisters to a fast pace dodge and weave fest of chasing enemies down and trying to complete a circle around them, hoping you don't get hit. Voidrun shines in its fresh ideas for combat and the pure satisfaction that comes from achieving victory.

Let’s talk about the art style. The colors of the default palette (other color palettes can be unlocked later) are red with a bit of white and some black. It can be hard to discern things like mines on the ground or a lone void ball. Things just seem to blend together a bit. The controls are very tight on both keyboard and gamepad, and all controls can be re-bound to whatever you want. I have not run into any major bugs so far. The music is fantastic, sounds are very retro but are satisfying to hear and fit the game.

The only moral concern I can think of is the near nonexistent plot of Voidrun. The plot is that you were tasked by a giant spider of unknown motives to “void” planets. The spider “blesses” you with 4 power-ups to achieve this and takes them away one by one until you’ve finished the job. When you beat a planet, in the planet select screen that planet explodes. You're essentially committing genocide here, for a completely unknown reason. The plot isn’t shown or talked about often, and most of it is only mentioned on the game’s store page. You kill various enemy types, usually robotic or some sort of fantasy creature.

Overall, I absolutely recommend Voidrun at full price. It's got some weird quirks that make it niche, but I still think it’s worth a look. The new ideas it goes for are executed extremely well, and the gameplay itself is some of the most satisfying stuff I've played this year.

About the Author

Evan

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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