If you haven’t looked at the side of the site before, you can see that I started a Steam Curator Group! It’s real small so far but I dream of becoming strong and powerful and I hope to one day work at a job that doesn’t make me feel miserable.
The first game I’ve received through the Steam Curation system is Shmup Moments, by Mankind Inc. I will be blunt: Shmup Moments is a game that would be good if it can be reworked, but as it is, I’m not really for it.
Hopping into my first session of Shmup Sessions, I thought that it was a twin-stick shooter. It has a set-up of one, as you are given free roam around your play area and can shoot in any direction as enemies come from all sides. And honestly? Shmup Moments would be improved if it was actually a twin-stick shooter. Being able to aim independent of movement would give a greater sense of control.
And it’d be good to have a better sense of control with your main weapon. Instead of a dinky blaster, you get a shotgun that bursts out bullets but propels you backwards, which can definitely get you killed. I will say though, when the game goes full-bullet hell, the game shows restraint in not putting a bunch of enemies for you to deal with so you can focus on dodging. You have the ability to do a shotgun propelled dash, which seems cool, but in a small playing area often full of bullets, there’s rarely a chance to put good use to it. Plus, going back to the twin-stick thing, it’d be easier to do if you can just aim behind yourself.
Shmup Moments kinda addresses your inability to aim anywhere but forward with your secondary weapon, which shoots homing missiles. However, it has a long-ish cooldown and does not shoot enough missiles to be a substantial threat to enemies. Overall, using the weapons in Shmup Moments just feels sorta weird.
And when it comes to difficulty, Shmup Moments is in a really odd place.
On one hand, you’re given the ability to slow down time. In bullet hell type situations, it’s a generous ability. Granted, using the ability drains your score, but that can provide incentive for more experienced players to avoid using the ability for the sake of getting higher scores while making things easier for novices.
On the other hand: in the stages, you only have one life. Get hit once and you have to start all over. The levels do seem to be short, but for a game that bills itself as a casual experience to meditate with before bed, it’s kinda hard to go through, even with the slow-down ability. The developer thankfully does seem to recognize that this sucks and you have multiple lives in the boss battles, but at that point, why not have extra lives in the stages? Why not just have a shared life counter between the stage and boss segments? It’s a weird decision that sucks.
Like blah blah, I know that that the “easy difficulty in games” discourse is going around again with Sekiro, time is a flat circle and we’re all in hell. But like. One life is too much for a shoot em’ up for casual players. Maybe consider providing options, like letting players set how many lives they have. Maybe give players unlimited lives but have deaths give steep score penalties to motivate higher-level players while being friendly to casual players, since that’s what the slowdown mechanic already does.
I definitely like the music though. These are “chill anime beats to relax to” tier music. If anything, Shmup Moments definitely tries to capture the meditative mood it’s going for.