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Vlambeer return to their roots with a yet-unnamed arcade puzzle shooter

Hatching a plan

After a string of larger games (including the excellent roguelike shooter Nuclear Throne), Vlambeer are getting back to their roots. At PAX West last weekend, the tiny studio with the big screen-shake effects had an interesting prototype on show - an arcade arena shooter with simple controls and an unusual puzzle-like spin.

Vlambeer are getting right back to the score-chasing roots of videogames here, minus watching all your 20p coins mysteriously vanishing. A spaceship zaps aliens in a single-screen arena, but the enemies you shoot determine where and when the next wave spawns. IGN caught some of the game (as well as developer Rami Ismail to explain it) at the show, and you can see it in action below.

The twist of this yet-unnamed game is its player-driven spawn system. When you explode alien bugs, they leave behind green slime. If you stay near it, it remains inert, but move away and the slime forms into a fresh set of alien eggs and bugs to shoot, and always more than before. Special alien eggs also absorb this goo from a distance, eventually hatching into larger critters that shoot screen-dividing beams or massive slow-moving shots. The number and toughness of enemies increases until you die, so the only thing left to chase is a high score while managing enemy spawns.

When firing its wide spread of bullets, the player's facing is locked, and when you release the sole fire button, the ship automatically swivels to face the closest enemy. If you want to fire in the opposite direction, you need to circle around your target, and take a second out of shooting. The bullets appear imprecise, too, so I'm wondering just how much leeway players will have to carefully farm enemy types on the board, if this is Vlambeer's intent. I'd be very surprised if a Vlambeer shooter didn't have a degree of depth beneath its cute arcade stylings.

Outside of its surprise debut at PAX West and a lone tweet, Vlambeer haven't said much about this game yet. Neither have they decided how much more they're going to be adding to its framework (although Ismail does mention an unlock system on the cards), when the game will be done or even what it's going to be called. Only one thing is absolutely certain: there will be screen-shake.

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Dominic Tarason

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