7 Overall Score
Gameplay: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 5/10

Interesting Gameplay Tweaks on an old formula | Great Graphics and art

Very short | Incomprehensible plot | Bland music and sound

Game Info

GAME NAME: Astebreed

DEVELOPER(S): Edelweiss



GENRE(S): Arcade Shooter

RELEASE DATE(S): June 25 2015

Astebreed.  That sounds…  dirty.  I had no idea what to expect when this one landed on my desk – but that is sometimes the best kind, isn’t it?

Astebreed is yet another arcade bullet hell shooter addition to the crowded field of shmups.  Although it does have a few clever tricks up its sleeve, this is a game we’ve definitely seen before.  Presented a little nicer here, but still.


Right out of the gate, you’ll notice a few differences about Astebreed.  First, its mecha-anime styling is a novel change of pace.  You play as Roy (a Japanese name if there ever was one), entrusted into a mech suit from a fallen hero.  In addition to defending earth from galactic invaders, you must also save/battle/fall in love with the fallen hero’s one (or two…?) daughter(s).  That was vague, I know.  This is due to the method of the plot’s delivery – speech and text during bullet hell stages.  While the text is in English, the speech is in Japanese, requiring one to read for any plot advancement.  Since taking your eyes off a shmup stage for even a second will usually lead to death, this is very ill-advised – and lending to the disjointed plot.  Although there are cutscenes to help amble the story along, without knowledge of the rather long conversations characters have in-stage, these cutscenes are confusing.  Hold down square to skip.

The shooting is pretty solid, though.  The gameplay itself is standard fare – until the camera shifts.  It takes on three different viewpoints, from side-scrolling to top-down, and also an over-shoulder.  These views change frequently throughout stages, and while it is a little weird at first, you’ll get the hang of it quick enough.  It’s a novel little gimmick that keeps the action fresh.  You also get a sword, which makes perfect sense in sci-fi anime shooter space.  The sword does plenty of damage, recharges quickly, and can even block projectiles, so you’ll be getting a lot of use out of that one.  There’s the omnipresent blaster, and a wonky lock-on mechanic that takes some serious getting used to, but is extremely powerful in the correct application.  Since enemy attack avenues come through multiple axes, the lock-on can target enemies in the background before they arrive in the foreground and attack.  It’s a handy trick, plus it meshes well with the ever-changing viewpoints.


Which brings us to the graphics – they’re pretty.  I’m not much for anime in general, but this Astebreed gets high marks for its style.  In particular, the interior stages are inventive and interesting to fly around in, and the 3D view shifting gives an intense sense of speed.  Enemies are your general vanilla space robots or whatever, but the opposing mechs are pretty neat to look at.  Everything flows nicely, and locking on to the various bad guys gives you a little bit of data on them – health, namely; and their title – which is helpful.  The foreground/background interplay works well graphically, and gives a good sense of relative sizes.  Some of those big battleships coming from the background wind up filling the foreground, and getting to that point looks very nice.  Framerate drops and freezes are a literal hell for bullet hell; thankfully there are none of those here.

So, the subs/dubs debate?  Normally I’d vote for the third option: personal preference.  But in a game like this, dubs are a requirement.  Games where you can’t take your eyes off the action rely on audio to advance plot or relay important details, and releasing this style of gameplay to an audience that almost wholly cannot understand the language is a serious misstep.  I played through the game more than once, and I couldn’t tell you any of the subplot points.  Daughters, or something.  That’s close.  The music is all forgettable speed/EDM stuff with pseudo-space titles, like “The Void” and “Astral Armageddon” and other nonsense.


It’s a short game, too.  This gives it a bit more merit as a score-attack style game, since each of the stages are only a few minutes long, and boss fights have timers on them.  But honestly, expect to see the conclusion in an hour or so.  And when the ending cinematic starts rolling, remember: hold square to skip.

The Recommendation

The graphics are solid, the mechanics are there, and the cool gimmicks the game pulls off are well-developed and pretty deep.  If you’re into the shmup-stlye game, this is a great one for your collection.  It’s very very short though, so keep that in mind if you’re a dollars vs. time person.

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Author: James View all posts by
Dangerously fat. Twitter: @hypersaline