Everyone with a TV has at least one TV show that is guaranteed to put them to sleep at night. Bite the Bullet, a monotonous 2D Indie-made roguelite RPG shooter has much the same vibe with unchallenging gameplay and a repetitive soundtrack that has the incredible ability to lull you to sleep while playing it.
As a hired gun who completes missions for a space-dwelling corporation, you raid apocalyptic earth for the corporation’s DNA compendium. Told with a straight face, the story has countless opportunities to distract from the standard-fare gameplay with an amusing narrative but holds steadfast with its bland characters. Furthermore, dumbfounding issues and unnecessary features soon drain the title of any remaining potential its vibrant visuals and decent soundtrack suggest.
Perhaps the most unique and innovative aspect of Bite the Bullet is inferred in its name; your weapons are not the only way to kill enemies – you can also eat them. Doing so replenishes your health while filling a meter that allows you to Hulk-out temporarily into a large destructive blue beast. Other weapons range from standard to intriguing and include a shotgun, a rocket launcher and a gun that fires small creatures. These abilities and weapons are, in theory, fun inclusions but unfortunately aren’t linked to either the story or any level-specific mechanics, and when combined with an overpowered shotgun, are rendered useless. This, in addition to copious amounts of character and weapon upgrades, makes it seem like a developer attempting to paper over the cracks and hide the core gameplay’s weaknesses. The character upgrade tree, in particular, has a ludicrous amount of unlockable stat upgrades for a title of only 8 levels that not only affects the overall balance but makes the game too easy too quickly.
The biggest issue with Bite the Bullet, however, is that shooting adversaries in a flurry of red pixel gore has never felt so bland and unsatisfying, with unimpressive sound effects and visuals making it feel like a means to an end rather than an enjoyable process. Even the introduction of its best weapon – the rocket launcher, never quite offers the explosion and enemy-filled scenes that you expect a game of this type to thrive on. Enemies are dispatched with ease in all but a few cases, but even in the unlikely event that one of them is causing you trouble, you can simply stand in front of them (your character sprite overlayed over theirs) and that will be enough, as for some inexplicable reason they are neither able to attack in that position nor are able to move from it.
The level bosses are perhaps the biggest disappointment, as it gives the title an opportunity to shine with detailed sprites, and potentially the opportunity to use some strategy against an enemy, but they are essentially static target practice affairs with only a few of the bosses requiring you to jump.
While you won’t necessarily be enjoying yourself as you hold down forward and constantly tap the shoot button, you can at least enjoy looking at it, with the game’s levels adorned with great 2D visuals. In addition to the effects and color palette, each stage has a nice amount of background detail that can easily go unseen such as aggravated beasts in incubator tubes itching to fight while others escape back into their homes. The enemies’ animation gives the world personality, and the spraying of red pixels against the different color filter applied with the alternative soundtrack give it a great overall design and cyberpunk feel.
Finally waking you up, the final stages pose a challenge that requires a bit more of your attention with the introduction of basic platforming features and double the number of foes, but rather than feeling relief that the game might finally be showing some ‘bite’, you feel regret that the developers didn’t simply remove all the unnecessary bells and whistles and provide the same challenge in the earlier levels.
Bite the Bullet is a very short game that fails to nail even its basic gameplay mechanics – with haphazard AI and unrewarding gunplay – and as such makes it hard to recommend to anyone apart from the sleep-deprived. Nice visuals and a half-decent soundtrack might represent salvageable aspects, but this forgettable title will likely, and deservingly, be confined to the bargain bin of plumb average video games.