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 itâ€™s the care and graft that counts.
Indie twin-stick space shooter Guntech 2 echoes this sentiment. Itâ€™s 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 â€“ it genuinely takes a few seconds to adjust to whatâ€™s 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.Â
Guntech 2 is also a good reminder that when you create something yourself from scratch, youâ€™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. Itâ€™s the oddest thing weâ€™ve played in a while.
Missions are spread across four chapters, each ending with a boss battle. The first three are shootâ€™em up focused, with such missions as destroying cannons, rescuing humans, and blasting certain amounts of enemies. Occasionally collecting coins for weapon upgrades, too â€“ 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 â€“ you may have to retry stages now and then, but rarely more than twice. Itâ€™s quite demanding, too â€“ the ship is fragile, so itâ€™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.
Itâ€™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 â€“ which extended to us killing a boss instantly, somehow â€“ Guntech 2 does have another issue. At Â£16.74, itâ€™s rather overpriced for whatâ€™s essentially a modern-day take on 1986â€™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 thereâ€™s still a bite-sized treat underneath.
Guntech 2 is out now on Xbox One/Xbox Series. Out 9th Feb on PC.