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Nightmare Reaper awakens into early access

Pseudo-Mario fuels my fury.

I may pride myself on being the resident retro FPS guy, but this genre revival has been so wild that some neat-looking stuff even flies under my radar. Nightmare Reaper launched into early access yesterday, a roguelite FPS by Blazing Bit Games. I'd almost overlooked it thanks to its extra-chunky graphics and the inherent difficulties of combining random generation with fast-paced FPS combat. But word on the old-school grognard grapevine is that this one's pretty dang good, with some clever ideas and big plans for its time in early access. Have a peek at the debut trailer below.

What we're looking at here is a vaguely Rise Of The Triad-ish looter shooter (see the chunky grid-based world) with randomly generated levels, and a story about a woman fighting her inner demons by night. It's a bit on the garish side, but the weapons seem loud and satisfying, and the enemies come in big swarms encouraging explosives and wading through clouds of gibs. There's also a chainsaw with a grappling hook and a soundtrack from Andrew Hulshult, fresh from Dusk and Amid Evil. Not his most imaginative work, but it's good chuggy retro FPS metal, which fits.

Cover image for YouTube video

What really sets the game apart is the RPG bits. Enemies explode into a shower of coins which bounce gleefully into your HUD when picked up, with multipliers based on combos and trick shots. These are cashed in via an 8-bit style mini-game the shooty lady plays on a handheld console. There's a whole Mario World style map within this game to navigate, which doubles as a passive skill tree, nodes (and levels) unlocked by spending your blood money. Complete a level, gain a perk that carries over to all future runs. Like Rogue Legacy, if the upgrade system was a game unto itself.

There's some fun random events too, including a friendly dog that'll dig up loot for you and receive pets, and some zero gravity areas where you need to kick walls or use weapon recoil to move around. Blazing Bit reckon it'll be a year until this leaves early access, and will triple in scale between now and then. Right now, you get the first of three planned episodes (each broken up into several multi-level segments), and there's 32 weapon types to play with, with stat rolls for extra variety. The dev estimates eighty base weapon types and plenty more baddies by launch.

Nightmare Reaper is out now in early access and costs £12.31/€13.59/$16.14 on Steam. There's no plans for price increases between now and launch.

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Dominic Tarason