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Feeble Light – Review

Panda Indie Studio are almost single handedly propping up the budget shoot em up genre on console and for that I salute them. Their games may have a distinct but familiar art style the more you play them but they largely play very well and get the basics of a good shmup right.

Bosses are fun and challenging at times, including this one that pulls you in with gravity whilst pulling back in its previous shots with you.

Feeble Light is their latest release and this places the play in an RNG blender. There are five levels that will arrive in any order and inside the levels various enemy ship layouts, the level length and the power ups are all selected from various RNG elements too. After the 5th level, you’ll reach the end boss (again bosses will be on the roulette will too except the final one) and assuming you kill it, you’ll start loop 2. Loop 2 ups the difficulty of everything and so the game rolls on. At the time of writing, I’ve been able to get to loop 4 where the game feels incredibly difficult but I can see others on the leaderboards getting to a 7th loop, where it seems the absolute peak of difficulty is reached and the game is not survivable. This isn’t just a skill thing though, its RNG dependant and this is both a blessing and a curse.

Whilst the movement, shooting and crucially the hit detection in Feeble Light is absolutely on point, the RNG does seem to be very fluid. A lot of this comes down to one very specific level in a loop – the cave level. Whereas the other four levels are open plan so that you can dodge enemy fire and zip around the screen using one of two ship speeds, the cave level is narrow and craggy. You’ll be steering a zigzag around the cave corridor and depending on the RNG, you’ll also have to deal with a bullet hell level of bullets too. Get the cave level early in your 5 level loop and the level will be shorter, less populated with enemies and easier to clear. Get it on level 4 or 5 of the loop and what was a 20 second blast can be an over 2 minute trek with double the enemies and double the bullets. That wide variation carries across all the levels but it really sorts the men from the boys in the cave level and that seemed to determine for me at least, how far in the game I got.

Each level feels distinct and there are 11 colour palettes to unlock which customises your look too.

It is a shame because the rest of Feeble Light works well. I like the fact you bring up a shot compass to line up your fire but doing so slows your ship down. I like the gradual increase of difficulty and the various colour palettes you can unlock the more you play. The soundtrack is a chiptune throwback and fun to listen to and having access to harder challenge mode can up the ante earlier for you too. It manages to land all the basics quite nicely. Boss battles are varied and require precision movement to survive – but they always feel fair. That cave level doesn’t.

Fans of budget shmups will still get plenty of enjoyment out of it but your mileage will be dependant entirely on how you view the RNG issue. If you can just accept some runs will be harder, shorter and unfairer earlier than others, you’ll get a fair few hours of fun chasing the online and offline leaderboards. If you prefer things to be a little more structured, Feeble Light might bring you some frustration alongside your bullets.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Feeble Light
Final Thoughts
RNG balance problems aside, this is a fun, fluid and visceral shmup for under a fiver.
Fluid graphics and movement with nearly zero slowdown on busy screens.
Hit detection is fantastic.
Will provide a fierce challenge regardless of how the RNG rolls for you...
... but that RNG will be wildly varied, skewering your skills and ending runs far earlier or later than it feels RNG should.

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