SHUMPs are a genre we all associate with arcade machines and old-school imagery. The glorious days of fast-paced action with simple graphics and addictive gameplay are much-loved by the genres many fans. When a new title enters this field, I get a little worried, especially when they try to twist the well-established mechanics to create something unique. Curved Space has done exactly that with its unusual approach to stage design, and an overwhelming number of enemies and weapons.
Developed by Only By Midnight Ltd and published by Maximum Games, this is a hectic twin-stick shooter filled with a lot of content. This bright and loud shooter will test your resolve as you destroy alien spiders in a variety of landscapes. The worlds you visit are small, and the weapons you collect, OTT! It’s absurd, witty, and will push you to your competitive limits.
Curved Space is fun but it won’t test you.
No matter your skill level, Shoot ‘em Up games are always fun. You quickly lose yourself in the madness while becoming addicted to its gameplay. Curved Space is no different, and I lost hours of my life to its alternative storylines and a crazy arsenal of weapons on offer. Sadly, though, the difficulty suffers because the developers have been overly generous with ship upgrades and mind-bending equipment. Whether it’s new shields, increased pace, stronger weapons, or higher health, the gameplay feels like it gets too easy too early.
The campaign revolves around the idea of parallel universes and their problems with eradicating the spider infestation. The miners of this futuristic world used to harvest crystals for energy, but this attracted the dreaded space spiders. Instead, they now harvest spiders for their resources and to maintain their safety. During each short playthrough, you can select from an array of missions that alters the course of the plot. This was fantastic, as it allowed for a fresh take on the story without having to invest hours of your life. The slight changes were great, and the different environments you visited were interesting, even if they added little more of a challenge.
Many modes and competitive gameplay.
One key element I loved in Curved Space was the array of modes on offer! Arena, Survival, Endless, Daily Run, and Campaign are all available to explore. Each tests your ability and allows you to focus on different goals. The aforementioned campaign mode offers a blend of every objective and gives you a taste of things to come. The Arena tests your skills in a range of tasks; sniping, low health, boss battles and so forth must be completed in a set time. Daily Run allows you to compete against online players and only the best will make it to the top of the leaderboard. The other modes are self-explanatory, and allow you to select from categories to make a unique and challenging level.
Where Curved Space stands out against its competitors is the unusual 3D worlds that you “race” around. The gameplay intends to make you explore each level while hunting spiders. Whether you are lashing them to power points to harvest their resources, dashing into them, shooting them, or blowing them up, it was enjoyable. Unfortunately, though, the gameplay is rather stationary! Instead of hunting your prey, they come to you. This was disappointing, and though it didn’t ruin the game, it reduced the difficulty considerably, alongside some other elements.
The previously mentioned upgrades and powerful weapons are awarded so often that the gameplay offers little to no challenge. There is an argument that this makes the gameplay highly accessible, which is true, but I wanted something much harder. SHUMPs are supposed to make you enraged while demanding you keep returning to play. This, however, is addictive, but you’ll smile throughout as you wipe the floor with the alien arachnids.
Curved Space has interesting environments and smooth gameplay.
I loved the attention to detail and the comic book cutscenes that accompany the campaign mode. The brilliantly written story sells the bizarre plot, and the use of parallel universes was an interesting idea. The colourful worlds with different environments were great to explore. Motoring across a spherical landscape was occasionally nauseating and took some time to get used to. This was helped in part by the array of spiders who spawned and the constant need to check the surrounding environment. I did, however, enjoy the change of pace from the normal side-scrolling 2D shooters of the past, and liked the fresh approach from the developers.
The high-tempo and loud audio didn’t surprise me, nor did the sound of lasers firing and bombs exploding. The music was excellent and created a tense and high adrenaline atmosphere, but it’s exactly what I expected. I enjoyed weird alien sounds emitted from the spiders and this gave the game an odd science fiction finish that matched the strange story. Overall, the audio didn’t disappoint me, it just didn’t excite me like many of its peers have in the past.
Lots of abilities make it a challenge to start with.
Curved Space has a timely and well thought out tutorial that’s perfect for learning the fundamentals. As each new ability is unlocked, you are given a scenario to practise and master each skill. This was a brilliant way to familiarise yourself with the basics while still progressing the story. I admit I struggled with the controls, as the fast-paced action makes it a challenge to focus on every minor point. With a little practise the issues melt away and you’ll love annihilating wave after wave of spiders.
SHUMPs are known for their replay value, and this one is no different. With its array of modes, competitive gameplay, and short story with multiple endings, there is plenty to keep you playing. Its large achievement list is challenging to complete and demands both perfection and hours of your life to finish it.
Curved Space is a great addition to the SHUMP genre.
When I take on a new title in this genre, I have few hopes that it’ll compete with the classics, yet Curved Space has done a great job. With addictive gameplay, fast-paced action, and interesting levels to explore, this is a great addition to the SHUMP genre. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it and recommend you to buy it here! Can you collect weapons, upgrade your ship, and wipe out the spider scum? Destroy every enemy in sight, harvest their energy, and save the world in every parallel universe.