It was around my third or fourth run, while I was trading fire with a strange flower with a hunting rifle while a pair of pig men with shotguns closed in, that I realized that Voidigo might be special. The back-against-the-wall pressure of a twin stick shmup isn’t really a new experience, but this time was different. Instead of some sort of multi-barreled, lead-launching doom weapon braced to get me out of this predicament, my awkward bird hands were wrapped around a rifle that launched bouncing banana artillery. That’s not a metaphor for anything – this thing shot literal yellow conflict fruits my foes.
4 runs later, I would finally beat the available stages in the Early Access build, and the Ratchet and Clank levels of goofy weaponry continuously stood out as Voidigo’s most playful aspect. The rest of the game – its vibrant color scheme, eclectic soundtrack, and expressive Saturday morning cartoon animations – are essential to this roguelike’s spirited style. It may scream Nuclear Throne or Enter the Gungeon on the surface, but it differentiates itself in some key ways.
In the aforementioned, your trip from screen to screen and level to level is a linear one. Every step is largely a direct one towards the end. In Voidigo, every level is an array of rooms, most with a McGuffin you have to finagle. Each of which released a lock on a section of the lifebar of that level’s boss. These bosses operate like Monster Hunter targets, in that they are the ultimate mission. Killing them will get you to the next level, but you can’t land the killing blow until all of these seals are undone. Bosses also operate a bit like Resident Evil monsters like Mr. X or Nemesis, that stalk you through missions causing several degrees of chaos as you move from zone to zone.
Each level is made up of a hex of zones, each of which are basically mazes filled to the gills with incredibly angry enemies. The mix of aggro rush down mobs, long range shooters, and random environmental hazards can create a truly anxious experience. But since clearing them isn’t a priority, you spend a lot of time just running away from them. There are shops and chests and even little mini dungeons that you can risk your neck for, and it’s always worth at least a bit of sidetracking for.
This sort of hot potato of the roles of prey and predator is the basis of every run, but is modified but all the various stuff you can find on the way. Outside of weapons, the sheer amount of power ups you can come across is massive. Some of them add a passive chance to freeze or poison an enemy you shoot. Some act on their time, attacking periodically or adding a fire trail to your sprint. My favorite sort of these pickups add buttons that you can hop on into the levels themselves that do things when you stomp them, like shoot lasers that bounce off nearby walls or fill zones with fire.
I’ve talked a lot about these guns already, but if shooting things like gumballs or scrap metal at enemies isn’t your thing, there are melee options. These are a little less varied and compelling, but they all have defensive options that can really get you out of a bind. Early playthroughs saw me trying to balance both weapons swaps with a ranged and melee weapon. Nowadays, I don’t even bother with melees outside of a few rare ones. They would need more work before they become a true priority for me, I think.
It’s got plenty of competition, but Voidigo is something interesting in the roguelike space. It has an energy and visual style that immediately leaps out of the Steam store. Gameplay is crisp and super easy to get into immediately. The boss hunting angle, mixed with the goofy arsenal of weapons, makes me think this game could come together as something truly special when it finally hits that neon colored finish line.