The majority of gamers of modern times will likely frown at the prospect of playing anything other than titles with all the bells and whistles in the graphics department. However, in my experience you should never judge a book – I mean, game – by its cover. There is a huge plethora of retro games out there in the indie catalogue waiting to be discovered and Void Gore is one of them. Developed by Panda Indie Studios and published by eastasiasoft, it is available on the Xbox family of consoles, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
Void Gore casts you as an ace pilot descending through the levels of hell and getting rich in the process. Earning currency as you battle your way through supernatural horrors in pulse-pounding vertical scrolling style, you can then spend your hard-earned coins on upgrades to keep yourself alive and prove your skills against online leaderboards. The premise here is very simple and that is to keep going and survive as long as possible against the swarms of enemies drifting towards you relentlessly.
I’ve always been a fan of games such as Ikaruga and R-Type, and if you’re singing off the same hymn sheet as me you’ll know exactly the type of genre I’m hinting at here. The fast and frantic pace of these titles can drive you to addiction, always wanting to do better and to learn the pattern the AI enemy craft follows when moving and firing, so you can dodge to perfection and work towards the high score. This is reminiscent of all games of this genre past and present, and Void Gore is simply frustratingly addictive. I urge you to stick it out and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Instantly you’ll notice when starting on Void Gore that it is harsh and hostile, barraging your inexperience immediately. You’ll die more times than you can count on two hands before you start to gain some kind of momentum, or at least that is how I experienced my first few playthroughs. There is light at the end of the tunnel though, as each successful enemy you destroy will acquire you coins which you’ll be able to slowly but surely use to improve your craft and gunfire. You’ll soon realise that the more you progress, the easier and more adaptive you become – you’ll be hooked trying to go further and further through the motions.
It will take time to improve your gunship, but Rome wasn’t built in a day now was it? You’ll be able to choose which particular portion of your craft you want to upgrade too, such as extra life, or the speed at which you maneuver with. I found that tailoring the upgrades to how you enjoy playing Void Gore is key, and you’ll notice the difference in power as soon as you spend the coins. It brings more enjoyment as you edge that little bit further in your run, slaying more enemies and gathering more currency.
Once you have chosen your permanent boosts, there will also be an opportunity to gain power-ups in-game. These power-ups add more intensity to your gunship as a top-up to your upgrades, seemingly making you a behemoth for a period of time. Surprisingly there doesn’t seem to be any huge enemies to match your updated powers and certainly nothing that echoes a typical boss fight. Instead you’re met with unlimited waves until you succumb to your death.
At first glance of Void Gore it will appear like a game that you’ll spend no more than half an hour with, but my first time playing saw me go two and a half hours deep with no sign of putting down the controller. Graphically it isn’t the prettiest in the genre but it bats that off with its addictive nature. The audio is high-tempo, heavy music to keep your adrenaline pumping and it fits within the image of Void Gore perfectly. In fact I had flashbacks of the early ‘90s with my ten pence pieces lined up along the arcade machines with the intense beats ringing in my ears.
Void Gore on Xbox will slap you in the face with its intense difficulty, but persistence, consistency and utilising the powers and upgrades available makes this retro title a dream to spend ten minutes or ten hours with. What it lacks in beauty, it makes up for with its retro vibes, charm and the ability to suck you in, making you frustrated but providing you with sheer enjoyment at the same time. Give it a try and I promise you won’t ever judge a book – I mean, game – by its cover again!