Heavy Bullets demands your full attention. Throughout my time with the game, I was constantly on high alert, listening closely for an enemy around the corner. Each time I’d open a door into the next procedurally-generated room, I’d scan the room for enemies at lightning speeds. At the end of each level, I’d let out a sigh of relief and brace myself for the next wave of enemies. The game is tense, stressful, and I can’t seem to put it down.
Heavy Bullets is a very straightforward concept. You spawn on Level 1 of an eight-level dungeon. You only have one weapon: a pistol that kills enemies in one hit. As you progress through the levels, you can upgrade your character with a variety of items of varying usefulness. The twist is that you only have a set number of bullets, and you must retrieve each bullet after firing it, making each shot count and punishing players that get a little too trigger-happy. The movement and shooting feels great, and pulling off multiple kill-shots one after the other is absurdly satisfying.
The game is also quite punishing, which is both a blessing and a curse. When you die, you must start from square one. On one hand, the constant threat of death makes every single enemy encounter incredibly tense; every shootout matters, and a lapse of attention against even the easiest of enemies can lead to a quick death. On the other hand, spending a solid hour and a half to get to level 7, dying, then getting sent back to Level 1 really, really sucks. The game does a great job at making it easy to get back into the game after a death, and the mechanics are solid enough to get you hooked, but after I got so far into the game then had to go back to the beginning, I really lost all interest to play again (at least for now).
Aesthetically, Heavy Bullets is fantastic across the board. The retro-futuristic style is heavily reminiscent of Hotline: Miami, yet the 3D environments allow the game to find its own sense of styles. Enemies contrast brightly with the environment, which makes them easy to spot and allows you to quickly scan a room and come up with a strategy on-the-fly. The sound design is excellent, as well, with each enemy giving off a distinct sound. Enemies can be heard through walls and around corners, which gives you an opportunity to know what you’re about to be up against and to prepare accordingly. The game’s music is sparse, yet effective, with the cool electronic soundtrack fitting in nicely with the game’s environment.
Perhaps my favorite part about Heavy Bullets is the variety of enemy types. New enemies are introduced with each subsequent level, and every enemy forces you to think differently. When multiple enemy types are thrown at you at once, you have to do some incredibly quick-thinking as to which you need to take out first and how you should dodge them. For instance, you’ll walk into a room with a few stationary turrets and a couple enemies that rush at you. Do you strafe around the turrets and risk getting overwhelmed by the charging enemies? Or do you try to take out the rushing enemies first and risk getting shot by the turrets? Some encounters force you to memorize different enemy behaviors, and juggling between them in order to survive is a ton of fun.
At the end of the day, Heavy Bullets is a fun game with not a whole lot to it. The mechanics are laid out in front of you in the beginning and don’t really change throughout the game. The furthest I’ve made it into the game was Level 7 of 8, and there weren’t any dramatic changes throughout my time with it. Beating the game will take you a couple hours, and Heavy Bullets seems like the type of game that you’ll be happy to beat but won’t necessarily be begging to finish a second time. However, for those looking for an ultra-difficult yet ultra-fun shooter, Heavy Bullets is probably worth the $10 investment.