[20 May 2008]
Even in the short time that this blog has been active, it’s become obvious that I have…well, I’ll call it a weakness for the genre that has come to be known as the “arena shooter” (others might call it a crippling addiction. Tomayto, tomahto). Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the most recent variation on the object of my constant affection, a little slice of freeware heaven with the impenetrable name of Debrysis.
It’s a mouse-‘n-cursor-keys experience, not unlike Geometry Wars or Everyday Shooter, that makes its presence matter via pure style. There’s something appealing, in a utilitarian sort of way, about the rotating gear/buzzsaw-like pattern that surrounds the play area, the glowing light patterns that are the enemies, and the rhythmic sort of way that certain weapons take out those enemies. The game flows with a sort of grace and ever-increasing intensity the likes of which I haven’t seen since Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, and the muted color scheme is incredibly easy on the eyes. There are local high score sheets and online leaderboards to facilitate competition, and it’s simply an incredibly addicting experience.
There’s actually only one blemish on the beauty of Debrysis, that being the avatar and the health bar of that avatar. The player plays as this little, blocky moon car with a turret on top of it, which simply doesn’t fit in amongst the almost surreal beauty of its surroundings. Not only that, but the little moon car’s health is represented by little blocks that hover around on top of the moon car, moving with the player as the destruction is happening all around.
The effect, then, is that of the destruction of the beautiful by the ugly, which could potentially be an interesting societal metaphor, though I’m not convinced that such a metaphor was the intent of the designers.
Despite the unease that said metaphor can introduce into the player’s mind while the game progresses, one can’t help but play the thing over and over again, simply because it’s a new way to achieve that little bit of hypnosis that the best arena shooters can inspire. It’s a game whose sheen is on the level of games that people, y’know, pay for, and the control is as sharp and responsive as it should be for a game like this. It’s nothing new, and its audience is probably limited to a certain niche that I happen to belong to. Still, it’s free, so the least you can do is give it a try.