A commercial for a certain brand of butter once convinced the world that homemade cakes are better than store-bought. Sure, they may have runny icing, burnt edges, unevenly placed sprinkles and contain the occasional teaspoon, but it’s the care and graft that counts.
Indie twin-stick space shooter Guntech 2 echoes this sentiment. It was made by a solo developer who has clearly put the effort in to make something attractive and appealing. It runs at 4K/60fps and features richly detailed spacecraft, realistic shadows, and an abundance of particle effects. All this graft is undermined by sloppy edges, however – it genuinely takes a few seconds to adjust to what is being displayed on screen, with saturated colours, bloom lighting, distance blurring, and other effects applied to create a haze of pretty explosions, clashing colours, and neon-lit asteroid formations.
Guntech 2 is also a good reminder that when you create something yourself from scratch, you’re free to implement whatever you fancy. To wit, this shooter features fire-breathing space dragons, planet-sized virus particles, colossal parrots flapping through space, and a penultimate mission to deliver a box of apples to a space colony. It’s the oddest thing we’ve played in a while.
Missions are spread across four chapters, each ending with a boss battle. The first three are shoot’em up focused, with such missions as destroying cannons, rescuing humans, and blasting certain amounts of enemies. Occasionally collecting coins for weapon upgrades, too – a feature I was blissfully unaware of until reaching the halfway mark, due to it being tucked away.
The final set of stages then puts combat on the backseat, making way for physics-based cargo delivery. Two bonus missions based around Halloween and Christmas also feature, seemingly thrown in for measure.
While this may sound like the epitome of eccentricity, there is a well-balanced experience under all the unexpected silliness. Control is responsive (ignoring a re-occurring glitch requiring a restart), and the difficulty level is perfectly pitched – you may have to retry stages now and then, but rarely more than twice. It’s quite demanding, too â€“ the ship is fragile, so it’s essential to keep it away from moving asteroids and space station walls, requiring precise movement.
Stages can be cleared clearly, making progress swift, and the scoring system provides a reason to return.
It’s clear the developer simply wanted everyone that plays Guntech 2 to have a good time, rewarding players with an extra helping of absurdity. It becomes even sillier as things progress, introducing a space jungle filled with giant bugs and insects, while the weapon list eventually unlocks water balloons and other experimental oddities.
Aside from the glitches – which extended to us killing a boss instantly, somehow – Guntech 2 does have another issue. At £16.74, it’s rather overpriced for what’s essentially a modern-day take on 1986’s Thrust.
Looping back to the handmade cake analogy, think of it as the gaming equivalent of a hand-decorated cupcake a child has brought home from school. It looks a little messy, but there’s still a bite-sized treat underneath.
Guntech 2 is out now on Xbox One/Xbox Series. Out 9th Feb on PC.