“This should have been a Devolver game,” is one of the highest compliments I think I can pay a game in 2023. The indie publisher has such a keen eye for deeply good and peculiar games that it bemuses me that the amazing Voidigo didn’t come out on their label. It very much has that Cult of the Lamb / Enter The Gungeon vibe, both in that it’s a top-down, bullet-hellish game of dungeon exploration, but more importantly, the way every element feels deeply involved, exquisitely fleshed out, and the whole experience almost compulsively replayable.

Voidigo is an action roguelite, in which you explore a series of linked chambers with the ultimate goal of defeating a level’s boss. But stop! Come back! Because, fellow boss-haters, this is such a fresh and different approach, and one that understands a core truth that almost no other game gets right: a boss fight should feel like all the other fights in a game, only bigger. In Voidigo, such fights take place in contained stages throughout the level, even with the ability to run away if it’s getting too much, to return when ready!

A typical run on the game begins with leaving the (expanding) hub area and arriving in a randomly generated dungeon. These are amazingly varied, with whole different tilesets and unique properties, with an unpredictable group of enemies. Early on, you’ll always start with the same gun, the Begunner, but very quickly new gun types will drop, or can be bought using shards that enemies drop or you can melee smash from containers, with only two carried at a time. Your abilities can also be augmented by abilities you can pick up, which themselves can be levelled up, some affecting your character, others the bullets you fire. Oh, and you can jump, which is an attack when you land on an enemy’s head, but also a dodge. And all of this is used to take out the baddies, and smash totems that protect a level’s boss.

The boss will start appearing after a few rooms/totems, and you’ll be able to take off as much from his health bar as you’ve unlocked via the totems. During a fight, the boss might run away, or you might choose to (if the exits are open), but it’s very rare for it to be over in one go. You’ll have other totems to smash, and it’ll likely scarper, but wonderfully, it doesn’t restore its health. Progress is progress! Once you’ve defeated it the once, it changes form and needs defeating all over, but the second time its health bar is all up for grabs straight away.

However, there’s so much more to it than even all that! Each level has sub-levels, doorways that lead to challenge rooms where you can pick a trial, with a named reward, and pick up all manner of bonuses at the same time. These are often a great way to replenish ammo and health, as they’ll likely drop those too, and getting a new weapon automatically fills its ammo type. Then there are shops where you can buy game-changing abilities and weapons for shards, and some shops have extra rooms where you can trade a named weapon for a tempting extra, and then there’s…

Oh my goodness, there’s just so much to this game! Yet it never feels overwhelming. Lose, and you’ll shed all your gains and go back to the hub. At first. Soon you get access to yet another area that has its own sets of unlockables via another item you pick up as you play. Win and you’re back to the hub with all you’ve gathered, more unlockables, routes to unlocking new starting characters and weapons, and then can set off to another dungeon with all the weapons and abilities you’ve gained so far.

Throughout my time with it, I’ve kept discovering completely unique weapons (one that freezes enemies with icecubes, one that’s a whacking great hammer that kablooees huge areas, one that was a witch’s broomstick, complete with cat, on which you zoom around at ridiculous speed smashing into everything). I’ve found abilities that mean the totems start following me around a room, shooting at the enemies, while spinning a blade around them. There’s a thing where you can get a giant bag of coffee cups on your back, that spill at random as you run around.

Movement is perfect, both ranged and melee combat feels very chunky and solid, and the animation is just blisteringly good. I do not understand how this has come from a three-person team – just the animations of each boss appearing feel like something that should have come from a 20-strong AA studio. It’s also self-published, meaning it didn’t have a team like Devolver behind it ensuring it hit this level of quality. That’s a big deal!

This is utterly splendid. GOTY stuff for me, certainly one of my favourite games of 2023 so far. It’s already looking like it’s proving popular on Steam, yet has had no reviews anywhere I can find. I do suspect this is partly because it was in Early Access for a few years, which seems to confuse most publications as to when to review something, so they opt for never. But it also means you’re less likely to have been pointed toward it, so let me have done that for you today.

  • Semiwork
  • Steam
  • £16/$19

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  1. This is my kind of ridiculous. No less for having being voiced by HL2’s G-man after a sizeable dose of Tramadol. So far I’ve wielded a sword that’s itself wielding a sword, and a goose in a stove-pipe hat holding its own tommy gun. I can see me racking up Binding of Isaac-level hours on this…

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