If you are of a certain age, there’s a visual style of horizontal shooter that evokes memories of smoky halls, bleepy music and the rattle of coins. Stellar Interface has all of this and more. On top of the obvious visual clues taken from R-Type, Gradius and Uridium the pounding soundtrack are almost ripped wholesale from my dim memories of my pre-teen self sat in his room in front of his Sinclair Spectrum +2 hammering away at that bloody awful keyboard and stabbing at the buttons on a competition pro 2 joystick in his later Amiga owning years.
Of course, this being 2016, there’s more to the game than there was back in the days of 8 and 16 bits. The updates hit you as soon as you see the in game menu. The menu itself is nice and simple, with visuals harking back to the golden days of the horizontal shmup but there’s options in there that no Speccy owner of the 80s could have dreamed up, like the excellent StellarNET that shows you your progress and informs you of just how much you’re going to have to do to hit 100% (LOTS, just in case you were curious).
The objective of Stellar Interface is simple enough, don’t die. Each ship you can control (there’s a variety to choose from) can shoot, dodge, dash and use special abilities that are unlocked in “factory” levels that you invade and shoot the faces out of. Each ship you pick has its limitations insofar as how much RAM it has for storing weapons, abilities, etc. At the end of each run you can choose upgrades that dictate your play style on the next run. Healer drones and a shield if you want to play defensively or attack drones and an ammo boost for a more John Rambo-esque playstyle. With randomized levels you’re not going to feel the game gets repetitive so feel free to tinker to your hearts content.
As I already pointed out the visual style of this game harks back to the golden days of arcade shooters but it should also be pointed out that the bosses and ships are very well designed with some exceptional special effects. Much better than a lot of early access games one can find on Steam.
The thing to keep in mind should you decide to play this is simple enough. You. Will. Die.
You’ll die a lot, you’ll scream, you’ll want to throw your mouse across the room but you will also sit there and say to yourself “just one more run” again, again,and again. Dawn will come and you will still be sat there saying it to yourself, the apocalypse will happen and our robot overlords will use us as power sources and you’ll still be sat there, gibbering inanely to yourself “just one more run”.
What are you waiting for? There’s alien hordes to slay… go get this game!