The tutorial for Killbug took me approximately 30 seconds, which is among the highest praise I can give a retro shooter. Screencheat creator Samurai Punk has returned to Wild FPS Territory with an endless arena shooter about slashing, shooting, and otherwise eviscerating as many bugs per second as possible. We in the bug-killin’ trade call that BPS. The result is a dead-simple, positively kickass way to spend $7 and a couple of hours – or eternity, if you’re good enough.
It’s a marvel that, in a game with a submachine gun that has infinite ammo, the best weapon is a knife. A knife with a cooldown, no less, albeit a brief one. For starters, killing bugs with the knife is – as far as I can tell – the only way to heal yourself, and I can assure you that you will take damage when there are countless bugs hurling venom and stingers and often themselves at you. You can also use the knife to propel yourself forward while chaining jumps, double-jumps, and wall-runs together to evade the ever-growing horde or reach high-flying targets as you parkour around the small but thoughtfully designed arena.
Everything you need to know about Killbug is right in the title. Your goal is to kill bugs and stay alive for as long as possible. There is absolutely no context for where these bugs are coming from or why you’re the one who’s gotta kill ’em. I choose to believe Killbug is about some distant relative of Doom Guy who became a household exterminator just in time for the insect apocalypse.
It’s simple, but Killbug is a lot harder than it sounds. There’s thankfully no shortage of breakneck arena shooters nowadays, but the closest comparison in my mind is 2016’s Devil Daggers. Here, too, the best runs come down to movement and map awareness. The big difference is that Killbug has extreme verticality baked into it. Staying on the same plane for more than three nanoseconds will usually get you killed once the bugs really start to pile up.
You have to move with the swarm, stepping over toxic centipedes, side-stepping jumping spiders, staying the hell away from whatever those little explosive things are, and rushing down beehives as quickly as possible. The screen quickly becomes a horrible torrent of creepy-crawlies – the polar opposite of all those arachnophobia-friendly game modes – and tearing through them hasn’t gotten old yet.
At the far, far, far end of the indie spectrum, we have Fabledom, a fairytale city builder about smooching princesses.