At this point it might be best to just admit that arenas are a bad idea, and the second one is built it will be overrun with an assortment of bullet-spewing baddies that can only be dispatched by the heroic efforts of a lone ship armed to the teeth with the heaviest firepower known to man. Maybe these arenas served a useful purpose on paper, but once you’ve tossed up four walls with an empty space in the middle it’s only a short wait before weird and hostile critters start teleporting in. Null Vector is the latest victim of this phenomenon, but like any good arena it’s got a defender ready to tear through the hordes and shatter them back down to their component pixels.
First up, before getting too far into the description, Null Vector hit Early Access on August 30 and is free for an indeterminate period of time during development. It’s also a lot of fun, so it’s a good idea to head over and grab it while the price remains at $0.
Null Vector is a twin-stick semi-roguelike where a pyramid-ship flies from one randomized arena to the next shooting down waves of attackers while keeping an eye out for new powerups along the way. Each floor of the dungeon is composed of a number of arenas linked together, and you’ve got no idea what’s in the next room aside from a number in the doorway letting you know how many attack waves you’ll be facing. The ship can hold three powerups at a time, but there’s one machine per dungeon level that lets you permanently fuse a powerup to the ship for that run, freeing up a slot for a new one. It can lead to some tough choices, but it doesn’t take long before you get a sense of how abilities stack and which ones are vital. Charging up from the starting pop-gun to a three-way laser that has the missile’s explosive detonation is always a wonderful thing, but even if you luck into an overpowered build enemies can still throw out enough bullets before you decimate them that you aren’t guaranteed victory.
At the moment with its first release, Null Vector is fairly short. Five floors with an end-boss and you’re done, but there’s more content on the way in terms of enemies, levels, weapons, etc. The basics are solid, though, and the ship controls nicely, the shooting feels solid and punchy, enemies put up a good fight and come in a variety of styles and attack patterns, and the semi-vector art style both looks sharp and is very clear and readable. Plus it’s nice to play a shooter where a good high score just barely crests 10,000 points. Even if Null Vector was never updated again it’s already worth a fun evening’s play, and at the cost of Free there’s no reason to let it pass by. Head over to the Early Access page and give it a look.