Heavy Bullets

Sometimes when you sit down to play a game you realise that maybe the developer doesn't like you. Maybe Terri Vellmann just doesn't like people in general. Sometimes when somebody gifts you a copy of a game on Steam, it's not because they are your friend. They want you to suffer and sweat. They want to ruin your day. That's not to say Heavy Bullets is a bad game. It's a great but supremely difficult game, a game that in no uncertain terms confirms that even after all these years, I am rubbish at shooters.

Heavy Bullets is a dose of neon twitch shooter hell, delivered at a pace that left my poor fingers struggling to keep up. The premise is simple: a poor janitor has to descend to level eight of a highrise hunting ground to reset the mainframe after everything goes awry. Offered a paltry reward and a massive pistol, our unwilling hero descends into a procedurally generated torture chamber filled with angry creatures and malfunctioning turrets. Dead-eye aim, God-like reflexes and a cool head under pressure are essential for success. Bereft of all of these qualities, I have only ever managed to get to level three.

The difficulty of the game comes from its design genius. The creatures themselves are not particularly frightening, and for a janitor we can move at a fair clip. However, the pistol comes with six of the titular bullets, which must be recovered from wherever you shoot them to be used again. Blast away wildly and you'll end up without ammo, which is a very bad position to be in. Oh, and the pistol is manual reload, loading the bullets one by one. While the imps and snakes shouldn't trouble you individually, having two or three turn on you can soon get hairy if you panic and/or miss.

To give you an idea about how little Heavy Bullets holds your hand, it took me two hours of playtime to figure out that the fastest way to down a turret was to fire at it's powerpack. Before this I was spending all my money buying bombs to lob at them. The game even starts off with one bullet out of the clip, to remind you to reload. The speed of the game is also hilariously fast, going right back to the old school of superhuman reflexes and circle strafing.

The only salvation comes from the vending machines and power-ups dotted around each level, and even these are cruel masters. $30 refills one heart of life, meaning you have to kill eight to ten enemies to scrape together enough to heal one-third of your initial life. The focus power-up (which gives bullet time) lasts for around five seconds, and you can only carry two.

I can only assume the game gets harder later on, but I appear to be too rubbish to find out. I do however really enjoy the hectic runs through Mr. Vellmann's neon imagination, and I will beat it one day. At the moment I'm trying to save as much money as possible (there are banks that allow you to store cash between attempts) to try a wildly overfunded run and see if a fat stack can negate my inability to shoot straight!

If you fancy taking a shot at Heavy Bullets, it's available on Steam. €7.49 is not a bad price for an elegantly simple but hugely difficult shooter that will keep you coming back for more. The music's by doseone as well, as if you needed an extra incentive!