The Bug Butcher is one of those indie games that you might not pay attention to. On the surface it sounds like so many other games, you play as a masked character tasked with clearing out waves of aliens with a range of laser based weapons. Doesn’t exactly sound groundbreaking, does it? However once you start playing The Bug Butcher, you realise that the devs at Awfully Nice Studios have created something special here.
The player controls an intergalactic exterminator called Harry, who is tasked with clearing out a lab that has been overridden by disgusting alien bugs. These aliens tend to spend most of their time in the air, so naturally you have to shoot up to tackle them. Doing so requires quick reflexes, skill, timing and patience, because you will die a lot.
Gameplay wise The Bug Butcher is reminiscent of Space Invaders, except the invaders are now fucking horrifying and everything hates you. Timing your shots is difficult, especially when the screen fills with enemies, which it so often does. At your disposable you have your reliable gun, a dash mechanism to avoid bloated alien bodies, and a series of power ups that boost weapons, movement speed and more.
In most instances you will be hanging out for the power ups, without them the game is insanely difficult… so naturally several levels don’t allow you to use power ups. This adds a great level of challenge to the game, but also makes you want to throw your computer down a well, but in an endearing way.
Each enemy type functions differently, making your butchering time that much more difficult. It’s important to remember movement patterns, and how many shots each enemy type takes. When you’re under pressure you’ll need to react without thinking so you don’t take hits, and one mistake can cost you a lot. Certain enemy types also have special abilities, such as the spiders (technically not bugs, but eh, fuck them, they need butchering too) that will attempt to abduct your scientist pal, and if they successfully kill him, you lose, because the game isn’t hard enough as it is.
Another great aspect in The Bug Butcher is the killer soundtrack. I’m usually not one for dubstepish electro music, but this really fits the bill and compliments the gameplay extraordinarily well.
The game offers three different game modes, arcade, single player and co-op. As of yet I haven’t played co-op, but I can highly recommend the other two. Arcade takes you through the game with some semblance of a story. The character interactions are mostly quirky and flesh out the story beyond it being just another shooter. I’m not saying you’re going to get a Telltale style character arc with this game, but what’s there is great. Also your character Harry unintentionally sounds like a grumbling Kylo Ren, which made me laugh.
Single player is a wave type mode, where you have a timer that can be added to after each kill. Once the timer is finished you’re done, and of course if you die you’re equally as done. The co-op mode is the same as this, but unsurprisingly with the addition of a friend.
If you want to see how the game looks and hear its banging soundtrack (trust me, you do) you can check out this video of single player gameplay I recorded:
Overall The Bug Butcher is one of the best indie games I’ve played in a long time, and for the US$7.99 price tag on Steam it’s an absolute bargain. I recommend fans of 2D shooters and those looking for a great time-killer to pick this one up, you won’t regret it.
Pros: Fun gameplay. Banging soundtrack. Good humour thrown into the mix.
Cons: Spiders are gross. There isn’t more of it.