- Classic run and gun SHMUP gameplay
- Combat mechanics are smooth and work well
- Local co-op multiplayer
- Missing some key features to SHMUP games
- No way to upgrade your ships equipment
- Too easy for a SHMUP
Blink: Rogues is the new SHMUP or, shoot em’ up, developed by Fox Dive Studios. If you are not familiar with the SHMUP genre by name, think games like Space Invaders, 1940, or TwinBee. You’ll be fighting through swarms of enemies dipping and dodging the entire time to avoid taking damage. The game is available now on Steam for $7.99.
Graphics and styling
Blink: Rogues has a simple but pleasant design styling. The ship models are well designed, and they look well suited to the game. One gripe we had was the lack of ship design selection. You’re stuck with the one ship, and when playing in coop or PVP, you’ll only get recolors of the same model.
Background designs follow the theme of simple and are nothing special. They aren’t terrible looking but lack in-depth details. For example, when you’re flying over the levels with water below while you can see the topography under the water, there is no ripples or any feeling the water is a flowing body of water. The only other issue I had with the aesthetics was the jagged black lines that encompass all the ship models. Each ship, enemy and player, have an incredibly prominent black outline that caused them to stand out quite a bit amongst everything else.
Overall the styling and graphics were passable. It’s important to remember this is a $7.99 game, not a AAA title where that would be entirely inexcusable.
Gameplay in Blink: Rogues is very familiar if you’ve played other SHMUPs. You’ll be weaving and dodging loads of bullets all while trying to take out your enemies. However, the game does have some unique features you won’t see if other SHMUPs. First is the blink feature, for which the game gets its name.
To explain the ability, you must first understand the Blink: Rogues split-screen dynamic. During single-player and multiplayer, the game screen divides into two different play zones. While playing in single-player, you have command of both areas being able to use your blink ability to swap between them at any time. Is action getting a bit too treacherous? Blink. Now you are on the opposite side, which is an independent game zone from the other. This mechanic allows for some new game strategy and continuously has you ducking from one side to the next.
The other thing that Blink: Rogues does that isn’t commonly seen in SHMUPs is the ability to reverse direction. I know that sounds silly, changing directions an exciting feature, but it’s true. Most SHMUPs you travel forward, and up and down, or left and right. While this is still mostly true for Blink: Rogues, you have the option of turning around to shoot enemies that would otherwise be inaccessible. It, like the blink ability, made for some unique strategies you won’t find in other SHMUPs.
Now I’ve painted a pretty picture of all the things I loved about Blink: Rogues. But that isn’t to say the game isn’t without its flaws.
First was the absence of the usual weapon upgrades found in most SHMUPs. Usually, as you blast enemies and proceed through levels, they will drop various power-ups to use. Upgraded weapons, shields, speed bosts, all types of these are entirely unavailable. In fact, there are almost no upgrades to be found in the game what so ever. While you will unlock an ability slot that gives you access to that move during each level, it was a far cry from the usual amount of upgrades and weapons you see in these types of games.
My second complaint was in a similar vein as my first. There is absolutely no upgrading to be done to your ship at all. While it isn’t overly common in SHMUPs, a lot of them allow you to upgrade your ship’s shields and weapons permanently. While we know this isn’t a staple of the genre, it would have been a nice feature considering there is currently no in level upgrades.
The third issue I had when Blink: Rogues is the degree of difficulty. SHMUPs are known for their intense and unforgiving gameplay. They make you rage quit and try and try again until you finally master your ship’s mechanics. Blink: Rogues was not an easy game; you will die constantly. But that is where the problem comes in. Blink: Rogues, as far as I can tell, has no way of actually failing a level. When you die, you respawn and can jump right back in, infinitely. I would have loved to see them implement a life system or even a minimum star rating to pass each level. I am not good at SHMUPs, but I was still allowed to continue onto the next level after scoring 0 stars on a couple of levels. In theory, you could load each level and do nothing and still pass the level granted you beat the boss at the end. The only exception to this was the last level where you had to outscore your opponent. That was fun and a bit challenging, and I wish we had seen more levels that put your skills to the test.
Overall Blink: Rogues is a well-fitting title for the <$10 price range. The graphics are nice enough to be enjoyable, and the gameplay is fun. There are some things we think the game was lacking mainly upgrades during missions, ship upgrades, and an actual way to fail a mission, but these things being absent did not stop me from enjoying the game. If you are a fan of the SHMUP genre, I think this title would be an excellent addition to your library. Just remember to temper your expectations because it is short, is lacking some features, and won’t challenge your skills as most SHMUPs do.
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