Bore Blasters

PC, Mac, Linux

Every now and then, I like to blow stuff up. Not in real life – because as excellent as it sounds, I neither like the thought of the cleaning up nor the time in prison – but rather via the medium of gaming. When a game makes blowing stuff up fun, it really doesn’t need to do much more to keep me entertained. So Bore Blasters, a game about mining for gems with a machine gun-firing helicopter, does me extremely well.

At first glance I thought this might be something similar to SteamWorld Dig, both games being about mining vertically downward, harvesting valuable gemstones, in order to upgrade equipment and mine further and better. However, despite this enormous overlap, the two games are extremely different. Where SWD is truly a Metroid-me-do, Bore Blasters is a twin-stick shooter. Each level starts you off with a limited amount of fuel, specific tasks to complete, and a goal to reach at the bottom of a stack of rock. Along the way, you collect as much value in gems as you can, both to spend in-level and without.

In-level advantages are temporarily added on to your gyrocopter for that run alone, and can be things like extra bullet damage, occasionally hurled out explosives, or pulsing waves of rock-destroying damage around you. The more you fill the gem meter, the more of these you can add on. After a run, whether won or lost, you can then spend the gems gathered on permanent upgrades for the copter. These can increase your fuel time, improve your defences, boost your damage, improve gem pick-up distances, etc.

And that’s pretty much the game. And it’s plenty. Completing a world opens up a bunch around it, meaning there are all sorts of different missions available at any time, and the constant upgrades provide a really strong sense of continuous progress. The deeper you get into the game, the more hectic levels become. Near the start you’ll be bothered by the very occasional flying bug; much farther in and you’ll be fending off crowds of goblins, weird fish monsters, and clouds of damn bugs. Here the twin-stick elements become much more prominent, as you carve paths through the rock, while being careful not to bash into the walls, all while attacking the hordes. And it’s a bunch of fun.

There’s an awful lot more to discover, different characters’ ships to fly, and tons of new special abilities to gather. There are comparisons out there with Vampire Survivors and the whole automatic horde shooter genre, but that’s not a helpful one. A bunch of the abilities you pick up on a run do auto-fire, but they’re bonuses, with the real combat action taking place under your direct control. This is in fact the impossibly sublime mix of a twin-stick shooter with a mining game, and it’s compellingly fun.

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