Your reflexes and nerves will be put to test as you scavenge your way to freedom in Void Bastards. I went into Void Bastards expecting a fun pick-up-and-play, rogue-like title in space. What I found instead was a tense game of survival that kept me awake at night, with the insatiable desire for just “one more try”.
As a rehydrated prison inmate (yes you heard that right), you are sent out in the vastness of space to attempt to reclaim your freedom or probably die horribly. With no backstory or information on specifically what your character did previously that landed them as being pink powder in a ziplock baggie, all you know is that you need to find a few items that will let you go free. In standard rogue-like genre fare, randomly generated content is the name of the game in Void Bastards. From the playable character that’s created, each with their own unique quirks that tweak gameplay, to the ships and space map you traverse, each quest for freedom will be unique. Fans of FTL: Faster Than Light will find similarities here, especially in the space traversal. But whereas FTL focused more on dialog boxes and tactical ship-to-ship combat, Bastards opts for a first-person view of the action as you board and scavenge derelict ships you come across.
During your excursions onboard the vessels you come across, you will hunt for parts and resources that will allow you to craft better weapons, gadgets, and armor. That is if you’re able to make it back to your vessel alive. The items that you create will then be available to all subsequent prisoners from then on in future attempts, but any resources gathered when a character dies are lost.
The mix of the tight corridors, dimly lit by flickering lights, and the ever-present risk of stumbling on any of the game’s enemies around any corner are combined in such a way that elevates the tension far beyond what you may expect from a game with such crisp colorful cartoon visuals. There are few moments in my recent memory that have raised my pulse as much as when I had very little health, no ammo, and needed to make a mad dash to my escape vessel only to have a small horde of enemies chasing and shooting at me. Dipping and weaving between gunfire, cutting tight around corners, doing all I could to escape with my bounty.
It’s moments like these and the fast-turnaround that makes the game hard to put down, and easy to pick back up again. Launching both on PC and Xbox, including on Xbox Game Pass, I highly recommend giving this game a shot if you are a fan of the rogue-like genre and first-person shooters!
This game was reviewed on a Standard Xbox One system with a review code provided by [the developer/the publisher/PR representative of the title]