Astervoid 2000, by Justin Luk and Chuck Bergeron is a fast paced, old school shoot ’em up built around couch multiplayer fresh off Steam Greenlight. There’s not a lot to it, but what is here is, when played with friends, elegant and a hell of a lot of fun.
There isn’t one. There really isn’t. There’s a survival mode but the game doesn’t provide any kind of context for it. That’s not a bad thing though, if you’re after a story, you’re in the wrong place.
This is where the effort was put in and naturally, it’s where the game shines. I think the most apt comparison you could make would be to a fencing match. Positioning and movement are key and the smooth controls make it a joy to try to outmaneuver your opponent. Things appear simple at first. Your only abilities being a chargeable laser blast and a short distance boost. But the more you play, the more you begin to realise that you are involved in a finely balanced game of cat and mouse. Every move you make must be carefully considered in order to outwit your opponent and emerge victorious. For this reason I actually enjoyed 1v1 situations more because things could get a bit hectic when the number increased, not to say that it wasn’t still fun (because it was).
Graphics and Sound
Astervoid 2000 is a good-looking game. Its retro style pixel art is a nice call back to classic shoot ’em ups like Asteroids and Galaga. There’s really very little to complain about. Things are sharp enough so that the action doesn’t become cluttered, but are detailed enough to keep the game visually appealing. Bottom line is that the aesthetic here does the job very nicely. It also doesn’t hurt that the soundtrack is fantastic.
The controls are standard and work just fine. The shoot ’em up is one of the oldest genres in gaming and so developers have had plenty of time to refine the formula. The controls are smooth however you choose to play, gamepad or keyboard and mouse. If you’ve played a game like this before, you’ll be right at home.
Difficulty is tricky to discuss regarding this game. In single player, things gradually ramp up as you would expect and there is a decent amount of challenge to be found within it. I do however feel like the difficulty could maybe have been changed up in some more interesting ways. Enemy variety could be improved upon. But the single player is really not the way this game is meant to be played. So I suppose the difficulty here will be determined by who you choose to play against. The game is a pure test of skill and so the difficulty level lives and dies with your opponent.
This is going to depend on whether or not you can get your friends over on the regular. Experienced alone, Astervoid 2000 has little to offer. Sure you can shoot for the high-score on the leaderboards but outside of that there isn’t much to keep you invested. But as something you can pull out when you happen to have a few friends over, Astervoid 2000 shines. It’s absolutely perfect for killing a few hours with your mates.