The Bug Butcher
Developer: Awfully Nice Studios
Publisher: 2Awesome Studio
Release Date: 8 November 2018
Price: $7.99 / £7.99
Reviewed by Josh Brant
The Bug Butcher, from developer Awfully Nice Studios, is a 2D shooter that sees you take on the role of an exterminator in space, with your goal being to eradicate all of the killer bugs that have infested a space station.
The various types of bugs descend from vents and holes trying to take you out. They come from above, falling, bouncing and trying to grab you, so you have to repeatedly fire up to eradicate them, a clever concept that immediately had me intrigued.
You walk left to right on the screen only shooting upwards, trying to kill all of the bugs before the timer runs out. My main concern about this formula was the potential lack of variety in the enemy, environment and gameplay. Fortunately that fear was quickly dispelled, with powerups that activate both at your discretion and automatically once you pick them up, as well as a steady arrival of new enemy types, and weapons to use.
This makes for some fun and deadly combos, and gave a lot more variety to the mission structures. There’s multiple ways to tackle a wave of enemies; even if shooting straight into the air and running side to side is most effective at first glance. Picking up a laser powerup, mixing it with fire bullets and utilising another powerup to freeze time, made for an intense barrage of death-dealing, bug-squashing gunfire that was immensely enjoyable to unleash.
A cleverly laid out upgrade system added even more gameplay variety to the proceedings, giving you the option to increase stats and abilities, making you feel stronger as your progress through the game. Each weapon you unlock behaves differently, forcing you to change your approach on each level depending on which one you’re wielding.
A Buggy Good Time
Enemy variety is equally as varied, with some enemies able to crawl, bounce, and even shoot back at you, changing how you tackle any given situation. I especially enjoyed (if you can call it that) the spiders that would crawl from the ceiling to eat the scientists adorning the background on each level, with me running around desperately tried to save them.
The stages change frequently too, but were always well drawn and animated. Some levels even have extra hazards for you to avoid that will occasionally force you into certain areas, restrict powerups, or even kill you.
Some awesome techno beats accompany the action, but largely stay the same throughout your game session. On levels where the music moved away from the techno beat, I appreciated the tranquillity which added another level of immersion into the deep space motif. The narrative and writing in particular is nothing special, but it doesn’t really need to be in an arcade title like this.
Controls are tight and responsive, and the gameplay feels natural as you continuously increase your skill with the mechanics, levelling up as you go. Through practice, you will feel like you’re getting better and better, becoming an actual bug-butchering master. Instinct seems to take over once you fully understand the controls, and the ease of access will have you pulling off amazing combos in no time. The gameplay was fun, addictive, and always had me coming back to get higher scores.
Overall, The Bug Butcher is a fun little shooter that may only last a few hours, but is the type of game you can continuously come back to for more bug squelching. This is arcade style fun that can be enjoyed in small segments, in a polished gameplay package. It’s highly recommended if you’re in the mood for some fun arcade shooter awesomeness.
Pros & Cons
+ Enjoyable and tight gameplay
+ Great aesthetic and music
+ Clever concept and plenty of enemy/weapon variety
+ 2 player co-op
- Not ideal for long gameplay sessions
- Lack of different gameplay modes