ReviewsReview: BitMaster

Review: BitMaster

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When life gets you down, what are you going to do? Will you keep accepting you are going nowhere and everything is out to get you? Or, do you plan to make a change? I suggest taking the bull by the horns and take control! BitMaster shows what happens when a common person becomes a hero. No longer will they be walked over when they fight for their freedom!

Developed by CoMiGo Games and published by Sometimes You, this is a colourful futuristic twin-stick shooter. You control one of five heroes who must blast their way through waves of enemies. You’ll face massive bosses and go up levels to improve your abilities. It’s a game of patience, tactics, and power-ups.

Keep moving and shooting.

BitMaster grows on you.

When I first loaded into this arena shooter, I admit I was confused. The gameplay is fast-paced; the enemies come at you in waves, and I did not know about my weapons. I floated on my hoverboard with little focus other than to shoot anything that moved. It took me a good hour for the premise to click, and when it did, I wondered how I struggled so badly.

The concept is ironically straightforward. There are one hundred waves broken down into five sections of twenty. At the end of each one, you will face a random boss. If you die, you lose everything and your score is calculated. This is added to your character’s progress and you may level up, increasing his/her base stats.

However, if you defeat the boss, you will create a shortcut that allows you to spawn at different wave points with a random allocation of weapons. Get used to the word random, as most of the gameplay is based around RNG and luck. During each wave, you collect a boost and this will either heal you or improve one of your four weapons. The best part of the game, though, is the positive and negative buffs that aid and impact your progress.

Plan as much as you like, but debuffs are a pain in the arse.

Every character has a set shield and health stat. If you are skilled and lucky, you will keep each maxed out. That’s until the debuffs take over! Your shield will drain over time, or you won’t be able to recharge it. Your movement speed may be reduced, or your ability to shoot is negatively impacted. It’s brilliantly infuriating, especially when you are making such good progress. Yet the randomness is appealing and adds such variety to each playthrough. No attempt is ever the same, and this is one of BitMaster’s key features.

Alongside these horrendous ability drains, you will have little choice over which weapon is improved. Your four tools of destruction are as follows; a widespread laser, a boomerang, an EMP gun, and a high-powered rifle. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but you may be forced to use your least favourite if luck isn’t on your side.

Defeat crowds with your EMP.

BitMaster doesn’t make life easy. 

Once you get the hang of what you must do, you’ll be lulled into a false sense of security. You’ll speed around on your board, dodging projectiles, and keeping your eye on the buffs. The game is in constant flux and this won’t be to everyone’s liking. The constantly shifting playing field makes planning your approach almost impossible. With no control over which weapons you’ll improve, and the game wanting to kill you, this can be unfairly harsh.

Yet, I loved BitMaster for its brutality and high level of difficulty. Yes, I was frustrated when I got backed in a corner and my shield drained away. But this strengthened my resolve and made me come back stronger. There was one area that I wasn’t so happy with, however! The randomness of each of the five bosses was unduly harsh. You have one chance to defeat them, and unless you are a quick learner, or have a great memory, you’ll fail miserably.

It added to the difficulty, but I can see a lot of gamers chucking in the towel way too early because of it. I would like to see the chance to spend in-game credit on picking your opponent. This would ensure players had a fairer chance of victory, and another collectable to gather during each wave.

A game that’s electronic and futuristic.

The synth/electronic influences are clear to see in both the graphics and the audio. Its isometric viewpoint allows you clear scope to see the surrounding arena. A well placed HUD gives you a radar image of your foes, so you can dodge and weave throughout the maze-like factory. The purple and neon hues and Amiga-like imagery give this a retro aesthetic. With twenty different enemies to tackle, this has plenty of variety in both looks and gameplay. The action can be hectic, but it never suffers from stuttering, glitches, or crashes. Everything runs smoothly, and this makes it a really enjoyable experience.

The audio is where the game shows its electronic roots. With a high-tempo synth soundtrack it belonged to the 80s, but was fused with futuristic vibes. It was delightful to listen to and kept the energy levels high. The sound effects were equally great, with screeching lasers, explosive crashes, and loud thuds as projectiles struck the scenery.

No enemy is getting through that.

Easy controls once you get used to it. 

As previously mentioned, I struggled at the beginning. This wasn’t because of the controls, however. The simple layout allows you to hit the ground running and you’ll be blasting foes in no time. Moving around can challenge you until you become familiar with the fluid approach. You’ll crash into the forcefield, walls, and every enemy you face. Yet once you get used to it, you’ll not experience these problems again. It truly is a game that needs time and practice to master. If you have the patience, you’ll be rewarded with a well-rounded experience. 

With four additional heroes to unlock, five monstrous bosses to defeat and one hundred waves to overcome, this will keep you playing. The in-game balance is constantly changing, so you’ll be kept on your toes throughout. A challenging achievement list is small, but will only be completed by thorough players. Hours of gameplay await you making this a great value title. 

BitMaster is a tough indie title. 

BitMaster is undeniably tough. The RNG buffs enhance the difficulty, as does the random weapon allocation. No playthrough is ever the same, and I loved it because of that key feature. I enjoyed my time with this, and recommend you to buy it here! Grab your hoverboard, pick a weapon, and shoot your way to freedom. 

SUMMARY

BitMaster is a fun, yet challenging twin-stick shooter. Wave after wave of robotic enemies wants to slay you where you stand. Collect the power-ups, plan your approach, and hope luck is on your side.

+ Wonderful neon-infused graphics.
+ 80s inspired electronic synth soundtrack.
+ Simple controls.
+ Lots of replay value.
+ Unpredictable and unique gameplay every time.
- Confusing to start with.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Mac, Linux, and Nintendo Switch.)
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: [email protected]

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