Eric Kelly On August 13, 2015 at 11:53 am

Astebreed LogoWhile Playism-Games have been hard at work to bring Japan indie games to English speaking audiences, they have stuck tightly to PC. But now with the release of Astebreed on the PS4 and the impending release of a swath of Touhou games, I hope that we can see even more from the publisher, as Astebreed is quite the shmup. The game’s basic plot is about how humanity had gotten into a war with an alien race which was going badly until one pilot stumbled upon an experimental enemy mech that he managed to steal before his wounds that he suffered saw him perish. But he also brought the converted consciousness of one of his daughters, now integrated into an AI called Lucius. With her help, she will bring knowledge and tech to end the war. Unfortunately, they had to leave behind her twin sister, so they also need to rescue her as well.

Gameplay is like most shmups, although there’s a large degree of complexity in your combat options. There is the standard shot that shoots most enemies right in front of you, but there’s also a more powerful short range sword attack that can also erase yellow bullets. A homing attack can also be used for dealing with large numbers of enemies and to hit the ones in the background that can’t be easily reached. The game is quite similar to Alltynext Second in this regard to combat options. Each of these attacks has an EX super move to them as well, including the dash attack. It differs in how it handles challenge though. The game is far more forgiving than that title though. You have a shield which buffers you from quick death, but it can also regenerate slowly. In addition there are unlimited continues which will let most players get to the end if they keep trying. Of course like any good shmup, the real challenge is in racking up a score. The game incentivizes this by having you take fewer hits to increase the shield bonus gauge and getting combo kills.

The game’s story is basic, but interesting, with some backstory stuff unlocking after completing the game. The in-game dialog is hard to follow though, as the voice acting is in Japanese and the text is a bit small and hard to read. This is mainly due to the game using a white font color that sometimes blends in the background; it’s positioning, and the fact that you’ll likely be too busy paying attention to the activity on screen to stay alive. Going back to watch a play-through on the internet or your own recording is advised, should you care to see the banter. Music is very catchy though, and it should entertain you throughout the game’s six levels. Visuals also look nice and crisp, all while running in 60 frames and at a possible 1080p resolution. There is also a new control method that makes use of the right analog stick and shoulder buttons. It works quite well, but it would have been nice to remap some of the button functions. The Arrange Mode uses this control scheme, and it even sports a new ending, so there’s an incentive to playing both modes. It’s a real fun game that’s easy to play but much harder to master. Shmup fans will want to get in on the action.


The game is pretty forgiving with its combat options as well as the regenerating shield being a buffer between life and death.


The game looks really good on the PS4, and runs at a smooth 60 frames.


The soundtrack is really catchy and the game is voiced, although in Japanese.


A terrific shmup that is as forgiving as it is technical.

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