Back when the Nintendo 64 was released, it opened a fantastic era of 4-player games sharing the same screen while the PC focused on online gaming. Twenty years later, 4-player games are released on PC like an avalanche since TowerFall has shown that there is a strong demand for it. Astervoid 2000 is one of the newcomers, and it remains to be seen if it will make its place in our selection for multiplayer gatherings.
Developer: Mad Capacity, LREVG
Publisher: Mad Capacity, LREVG
Genre: Space Brawler
Release date: 1st of December, 2016
Type: Single-player, Local multi-player
Astervoid 2000 brings back the memories of the very old arcade shooter Asteroids in which the player had to shoot those dangerous stellar objects for a high score. However, even though the asteroids are still present in Astervoid 2000, the aim is not to shoot them down but rather to eliminate enemy ships. All the ships behave the same way; there is a shield that can take one hit, and if it does not regenerate in time the now exposed hull takes one more hit to be destroyed. The second line of defense is a quick escape dash. All the ships shoot the same projectile that travels at a satisfying speed as it is neither too slow (would lack punch) nor too fast (would be hard to avoid). Finally, charging the laser allows for a strong blast, or a deadly dash.
Since the game takes place in the void of space, there are not really levels per se. Instead, variety comes in the form of asteroid fields or neutral destroyers that sometimes appear and shoot slow but deadly plasma discharges. The field of view only covers a small part of the arena, and going outside of the screen is not instantly punished but an alarm warns the player to get back to the center fast or suffer destruction. There is a weighty recoil to shooting, so shooting constantly might hinder maneuverability. However the charged attack is even worse because it slows the ship down a lot and its blast does not have enough range to be efficient far from a fight. Consequently, when playing with my friends we quickly concluded that a spam-fest was the most efficient way to win and yet it was not the most fun way to play.
The controls are quite good all across the board, it plays as a Twin-Stick Shooter on the gamepad but I preferred to use the mouse and keyboard as I have old habits of First Person Shooters. There is no way to rebind keys, so I was thankful that the default key binding is WASD and not arrow keys. The graphics are a nice and detailed pixel art, I liked the design of all the ships. The sound is good as well, from the SFX to the music.
Astervoid 2000 can be played either in single-player or multi-player. The single-player consists of a survival mode with waves of enemy ships increasing in number. The multi-player is just a deathmatch of up to 4 players. Both of these game-modes share the same issues: there is not much variety since it just happens in the void of space, and there are no power-ups to spice things up and change the way the game plays. In the same vein of pure gameplay without power-ups, Samurai Gunn was way more fun because of its huge number of levels. After a few rounds of Astervoid 2000, my friends and I felt like we had had enough and wanted to play something else. Likewise, the single-player survival gets old quickly.
In conclusion, Astervoid 2000 is a well-made Twin-Stick Shooter with satisfying controls and a nice coating, but the inside is too shallow to keep our attention for even one hour. In the library of 4-player games it would be a short appetizer rather than the main course. While the game is not expensive, it still does not feel like a good bargain.