Bleeding Ink: TERROR SQUID Review

by Chris Camilleri
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Among the many games being released on a daily basis, few are lucky enough to be noticed, and even fewer still the ones being good enough. The indie market especially is so saturated that it is incredibly difficult for a studio to break through without some sort of innovation in their game, a key mechanic which is so appealing, it ushers in bigger audiences just for that one added feature.

One such game with a unique mechanic is Terror Squid from Apt Games. I will immediately go out and say that I have never ever played a game like this if there are any on the market. As a concept, the game is unbelievably simple, but the gap between learning and mastering it is as wide as the ocean.

What this game basically is, is that you have a spaceship of sorts which is going around the same spherical plane. As you move along this plane you will shoot projectiles behind you, and the basic goal of the game is .. to not get hit by those same projectiles you are shooting. In theory, it is surprisingly simple, but getting to play it makes you realize how wrong you were.

There are only three controls in TERROR SQUID – moving with WASD, dash with J and Explode with L. You can also consider Enter as the most important command here; Retry – as you will die A WHOLE LOT OF TIMES before you eventually get the hang of things. You basically will design your own death, as you are free to navigate the sphere with no limitations except for running into your own projectiles, which will result in death.

The UI of the game is pretty simple as well and non-invasive in the slightest, so you will not be able to blame your 5-second run on the game anymore – TERROR SQUID will not accept any blame pointed its way. The two bars to the sides of the sphere will slowly fill as you roam around the ball, and when they fill up they will change colour to red to indicate you may explode your surroundings. The Explode command, L as default, will initiate a chain reaction, blowing up the closest projectile to you.

If the other projectiles are close to it, they will blow up as well, and the same pattern is repeated until there are either no projectiles left, or the chain ends with the next projectile being too far away.

terror squid

The more you clear, the better your continuation in your run is, as that would mean that there is now lesser projectiles for you to walk into and end your run. Triggering the explosion will however initiate the successive ritual, which means that the projectiles left by your ship will cause more and more trouble regardless of how many of the current projectiles get destroyed, which means you have to really place your shots carefully to then blow up as much as possible to have a lot of room to navigate into during each successive stage. The projectiles will change shape and form, which will affect how you move about in the stage considerably.

Ironically, TERROR SQUID feels like somewhat of a rogue-lite, as you slowly learn by playing and, mostly, dying. You will slowly get a feel for what works and what doesn’t and how to place your bullet trail in order to progress to the next stage. Given how short each attempt is, it will take some time to learn the ideal pattern to go for in each ritual, but given enough playtime one will definitely begin to operate some strategy to progress through. There’s even an achievement for 88 deaths, which is an indication of how much you will actually fail in this game.

The game is pretty much what everyone behind it envisioned, which is a relentless nightmare of bullets out to get you. It will no doubt frustrate you on your first few attempts, but keeping at it is the key to success in games like this. Apt Games have definitely found an excellent formula for a game which can be played in short bursts and even in long hauls both.

At a price so affordable to anyone, I would definitely recommend this game; it may not provide the gameplay value that another game can provide given the nature of Terror Squid, with my best alive time after some 50 attempts being 50 seconds, but for competitive players who will try their damndest to place a top time, I can assure you that there is margin for improvement on every run you do, so replayability for this game is sky-high.

Grab TERROR SQUID right now on Steam!

And for more game reviews, feel free to check out our review section HERE.

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