Voidigo Early Access Review: A Lurid Monster Hunting Experience

Voidigio is a frenetic roguelike with production values like a 90s cartoon, which adds a dash of Monster Hunter's roaming beasts for good measure.

Video games are full of really good noises and audio cues. The distorted explosion of rockets in Quake, the awful crack of a headshot in Gears of War, Mario's iconic whoops and hollers. They serve as hooks that bring us into the worlds of our favorite games.  

There are plenty of subtle animations that do this, too: the screen shakes that crop up in Vlambeer's pixel-art arcade games, the pause-on-hit and stark audio cues of Hades' combat. They enhance every action and delight the player with the way they infuse each experience with a sense of kinetic energy and reward.

Voidigo leans into of all that so hard that it falls over, sending everything in the room clattering and bouncing away, with a cacophony of honks, squeaks and trills before getting up, dusting itself off, and doing it all over again.

Every frame of Semiwork Studio's roguelike is full of movement and activity. It brings to mind the jittery, wiggly animation of Klasky Csupo, as objects and characters bop and wobble around before you send them flying with a shot to face.

Voidigo Early Access Review: A Lurid Monster Hunting Experience

At its core, Voidigio is a Roguelike similar to other screen-shaking top-down shooters Nuclear Throne and Enter the Gungeon. You are Drash, a small pink bird lady who has no memories of her past but has been picked by the Antivoid to help battle the Void, an all-consuming evil that has messed up reality.

You do so by entering levels shaped like wheels, each with a hub in the middle reaching out to six spokes that are all connected in a ring. Every level has a boss, a big beast corrupted by the warp and turned into an aggressive hunter. When you encounter the boss, which can be from a set roster including everything from a giant queen ant to a carnivorous plant with an angler fish style lure, you are able to begin chipping away at it. 

Bosses have fairly large health pools and a wide range of telegraphed but still hard-to-avoid attacks. You'll notice fairly quickly that they have a big health bar covered in padlocks; this is because each map has a set of void-corrupted monoliths that protect the boss. Of course, you'll need to smash those before you can fully defeat the level's ultimate enemy.

But wait! The monoliths are often locked by a key held by one of an assortment of minions that can be found in the area surrounding the main hub. So the aim of the game is to find the monoliths, get the key, zap it, and hunt the boss. It's not so simple, though, because bosses aren't static. Instead, they roam around the map, haranguing you when they feel brave or scarpering to heal from a hiding place. 

In practice, the loop works like a mix of Monster Hunter and Nuclear Throne, a set of micro objectives forcing you to engage in bullet-hell battles with a menagerie of aggressive tree people, shell wearing goons, and boisterous pigs — all while looking for new loot vortexes to grab weapons from, or shops to spend currency in to top up your ammo count (or durability for melee weapons).

Like most roguelikes, you can also get a whole host of passive upgrades: gems that shoot lasers when you dodge with your jump, buttons that trigger random environmental effects, familiars that make you shoot faster, a long arm that, unsurprisingly, makes your arms longer.

Scrap Mechanics

Combat is hectic and kinetic with projectiles and enemies pinballing off each other, but you're equipped with a good few movement options, including a sprint, a jump that does double duty as a dodge, and a Mario-style stomp that stuns enemies for a few precious moments.

Weapons range the gamut from banal — a revolver, a shotgun, various swords and clubs — to the brilliant — the shotgum, which is a shotgun with bouncing gumballs, the basshunter, a gun that fires small watery fish, and, well, there are lots of unique and memorable weapons best not spoiled.

As with all the great roguelikes, synergies between weapons and effects allow for fun combos to play out. I found a tasty one where my sprint left little electric clouds behind me if I was in combat, which coupled with a gun that shot water projectiles had the added effect of spreading the electricity to even wider areas, stunning bosses and foes alike.

Load up on peppers, which modify melee with effects like fire and poison, and soles, which affect stomps in a similar way, and you might end up going with a full melee build for a run. After the first and second stages, there are shops where you can trade items for health and vice versa, giving you a variety of things to consider as you progress. More health is always good, but sometimes an extra item is better. 

Rush of Blood

Currently, there is a third stage that gives you a wealth of guns and other weapons to choose from as you attempt to battle three bosses at once in a madcap dash around the world. The game currently ends after this, as it is only at version 0.0.2 right now — but it's quite a finale as it stands. 

There are already options to try harder runs, change your starting loadout, and a hint that more characters will be coming over time. It's a really promising start for a roguelike that's already bursting at the seams with creativity.

It's also nice to see such an aesthetic switch-up for a genre that often favors sci-fi and fantasy of the more conservative approaches. Voidigo is a day-glo nightmare world, more 'zine than comic book in its presentation. Music has a pop lean that fits the way everything in the world shakes and shimmies, and it's nice to hear novel instruments like slap bass, woozy synths, and tin drums clatter away in the background.

Voidigo Early Access Review — The Bottom Line So Far

Voidigo is definitely one to watch, so don't let the over-the-top 90s surrealism look put you off. There's great scope here for an exceptional experience, and having bosses smash through levels to chase you is something that never grows old. The whole thing feels slightly manic, and that goes hand in hand with the die and try again approach of a roguelike.

I'm already itching to get my hands on new characters and try out new weapon combos, and I can't wait to see where the developers take things next.

[Note: Semiwork provided the copy of Voidigo used for this Early Access review.]

Contributor

Published Mar. 15th 2021

New Cache - article_comments_article_68458
Related
More Voidigo Content