What’s not to like about a great sci-fi adventure? They are full of aliens, badass one-liners, and likeable heroes. Furthermore, there are swathes of enemies, gargantuan bosses, and plenty of danger en route. You are normally thrown in at the deep end, and this is both overwhelming and exciting. Therefore, when I was offered Gunborg: Dark Matters, I couldn’t wait to see what I’d encounter.
Developed by Ricpau Studios and published by RED ART GAMES, this is an arcade twin stick shooter. It has science fiction at its core and guarantees to drive you crazy because of its tough ways. Now, it’s not in the same league as many of the 2D hardcore platforming titles. Yet, it still requires patience, precision planning, and a great memory.
Gunborg: Dark Matters is retro to the core.
Retro gaming is massive, but some titles merely play the part. Gunborg: Dark Matters is different! Every element reeks of old-school action, and I loved it because of it. From the excellent pixelated graphics, simple side-scrolling perspective, and hard-hitting audio, there’s plenty to enjoy.
The story, however, is a little weak. I admit I was confused from the off as the developers fail to explain what’s happened. Effectively, you are a female warrior who must escape from an abandoned spaceship. On her way, she encounters many aliens, traps, and objects that wish to kill her. She must use her guile, dexterity, and weapons to overcome the obstacles and get to the escape pods.
There is the normal selection of weapons to choose from, the usual traps to avoid, and the monstrous bosses to defeat. Yet, it still feels fresh and exciting to play. The gameplay is broken down over many short levels, and you’ll encounter a boss every four levels or so. You may think, “short levels, what’s the point?” Trust me when I say it, but they are the perfect length, as anything longer would be overwhelming.
The heroine is armed with an energy sword and shield. As she progresses and kills aliens, she can steal their guns to improve her arsenal. Sadly, there is no way to reload your weapon, so once you are out of ammo, you chuck it away (no recycling here, I’m afraid). You’ll pick up rifles, grenade launchers, machine guns, rockets, and so forth. I adored the selection of futuristic guns and loved mowing down every foe I faced.
You’ll encounter flying discs, explosive beasts, sword-wielding maniacs, grunts, and more. Each hulking alien has strengths and weaknesses that must be exploited, and the further you progress, the harder they become. Therefore, it is essential that you empower your Dark Matter ability. This special power is armed as long as you achieve a large combo and don’t get hit. Subsequently, you are rewarded for your skill and this makes you much more badass.
Combat is only one part of the equation, however. As you explore the cavernous stages, you must avoid an array of obstacles and traps. You’ll avoid spiked walls, dodge lasers, land on moving platforms, and run under energy-infused cogs. Insanely, you must do all of this while fighting every foe you face. Therefore, you must plan on the fly and have razor-sharp reactions.
Ranking system and 3 difficulty settings.
Like the great arcade titles of the past, Gunborg: Dark Matters focuses on an easy to understand ranking system. You will be marked on your speed, your deaths, the points you’ve collected, enemies you’ve killed, and collectables you’ve found. If you excel and perform perfectly, you’ll be awarded an S accolade. However, no matter what you score, you’ll always be able to progress.
Luckily, completionists and perfectionists can return to tackle any level at any time. Therefore, you can work your way through each stage and return to achieve top marks whenever you wish. I liked this approach as it keeps the action flowing. It would have been easy for the developers to make it more of a chore, but this would have undermined the arcade style.
To test veteran gamers, Ricpau Studios utilised 3 difficulty settings, easy, normal, and hardcore. Now, twin stick shooters are a genre I struggle with, so I found the easy option to be challenging enough. However, madmen or women can push themselves to their limits and try to defeat the hardcore option.
Gunborg: Dark Matters looks great.
It is easy for me to get swept up in the hype of retro gaming, as I love the nostalgic ways and the garish colours. However, I can’t deny that Gunborg: Dark Matters looks great no matter my biased point of view. The developers have done an amazing job with its buttery smooth action, brilliantly varied stages, and excellent neon hues. It captures everything that the 80s loved about sci-fi, but it adds a wonderful modern twist. Furthermore, the aliens look amazing, as they all have a unique appearance.
To enhance the retro style, there is a brilliant synth soundtrack that is aggressive, loud, and amazingly dated. Its hard-hitting ways add energy and drama to every stage you attempt. Alongside the great music are the fantastically futuristic sound effects. You’ll adore the booming explosives, the shrill sounds of each laser, and the ominous sounds of every alien. Like the graphics, the audio is well-thought-out and matches the theme and genre perfectly.
When a game demands high levels of precision, you need the controls to be responsive and accurate. Luckily, Gunborg: Dark Matters does just that. Subsequently, it makes a tough genre much easier to play. Even when the action gets hectic and you have many obstacles to avoid, you won’t feel out of your depth. Therefore, I can confidently say that this is suitable for both veterans and new players alike.
Thanks to the array of difficulty settings, collectables to find, and challenging gameplay, this will keep you busy for hours. Furthermore, once you finish the main story, you must overcome three extremely difficult stages! These will test the best gamers and will potentially make you rage quit.
Gunborg: Dark Matters is a hidden gem.
I knew little about this title before it hit my desk, but wow, I’m glad I played it. The developers have got every element spot on, and this will appeal to fans of many genres. I adored the aesthetics, the level design, the array of weaponry, the aliens, and the replay value. Yes, I won’t be trying the hardcore mode, but I know my limitations. I absolutely adored it and I recommend you to buy it here! Can you work your way through the spaceship and get to the escape pods? Grab any weapon you find, kill the aliens, and avoid every obstacle.