Indie Game of the Week – Jamestown

Each week our resident Indie Gamer Nicholas takes a look at a different Indie Game that you may or may not have heard about.  Join him on his adventures as he sifts through the rubbish to find The Indie Game of the Week.

How many of you are familiar with bullet hell shooters? Essentially, they’re top-down shooters where the player is tasked with dodging (and sometimes surviving) gratuitous waves of projectiles. They’re simple, fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping explosion-fests. They definitely aren’t for everyone – those with a low tolerance for twitch game-play and frustration need not apply. 

This week on Indie Game of the Week, we’re going to be discussing a bullet hell game, a nifty little indie title known as Jamestown. Those of you who haven’t heard of the game (though most of you likely have, it’s been out for a while) probably first think of the British colony of the same name. Founded in the 17th century, Jamestown was the first permanent settlement in The New World, created some time after the failed Lost Colony of Roanoke. Believe it or not, all this information is relevant: Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony takes place in the 17th century, with the town of the same name as a centerpiece. Except that it takes place on Mars. With aliens and steam technology and Spanish war-machines.

Yeah…the game’s a little over the top. 

Players can choose from any of four different ships (without the Gunpowder Treason and Plot DLC, which brings that total to four): The Beam ship is your default, and can fire either a standard spread or a powerful beam; the Charge ship fires two columns of projectiles and can unleash a powerful charge shot; the Gunner is much like the Beam except that it can fire large crescent-shaped shots in any direction it chooses; and the bomber fires a line of bullets which can be detonated. Each ship has its strong and weak points, and there’s not really any ‘best:’ it all depends on your play-style and what you’re trying to accomplish. 

You’ll need to gain points in-game to purchase each of the ships aside from the Beam. 

The atmosphere of Jamestown, while a little absurd, is fantastic: the graphics department rather outdid themselves here, as it’s hard to resist the temptation to stop and admire the scenery (even though doing so will end in death at least 90% of the time). The combination of Mars’ bizarre alien geography with a bunch of space-age steampunk tech actually works marvelously, and the music is definitely a treat to listen to, as well. The plot involves something about Sir Walter Raleigh. a fugitive from justice who has fled to Mars, and finds himself drawn (somewhat unwillingly) into the conflict between Jamestown and the Spanish.

Honestly, it’s a top-down shooter. Story comes second to game-play here, and the game-play is magnificent. It’s fast-paced, it’s visceral, and it’s challenging (particularly on higher difficulty levels). The most unique element of Jamestown is the Vaunt mechanic: killing foes causes bolts to appear on the map. Collect enough of these bolts, and you can enter into Vaunt mode: you’re invincible and your shots receive a huge power boost for a short time. 

All in all…if you’re looking for a decent old-school styled bullet-hell experience? Jamestown’s got your name written all over it. 

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