Level 99 Games is bringing a whole new style of gunslinging to the tabletop courtesy of their brand new game Bullet♥︎, a shoot-em-up puzzle action game that is live on Kickstarter. The game has players taking control of one of several heroines, each with different abilities that fit a variety of playstyles, though regardless of which heroine you choose the goal remains the same. As the name suggests, Bullet combines combat and puzzle-solving for a truly unique and addictive experience, as both players will use a combination of Action Points, Cards, and risk vs reward style tactics to survive long enough to overwhelm their opponent. We recently had the chance to put the game through its paces, and it seems Level 99 has a hit on its hands.
Bullet♥︎ features eight different heroines, and all feature a slick stylized aesthetic and a variety of powers, including musical alchemy, manipulation of gravity, manipulation of triangles, and even abilities like pulling people from the past into the present. You'll use these abilities to help maneuver and manipulate the board as bullets start flying in, attempting to clear your board and send bullets back at your opponent.
So here's how it works. Each player has a bag of bullet tokens, and each turn you draw a number of them from the bag and start placing them on your Hero Board. The board is separated into columns, each with a different color. The spaces on the board have a number as well, so when you draw a bullet from your bag you use the color and the number to figure out where it is placed on your board. If there's a bullet already there you skip that space and move it further down on the board, which increases the chance of you taking damage.
Once a bullet has made it down to your health bar you lose as many health as there are bullets that hit you, and each heroine has a different level of health. The way to prevent this is to clear the board of bullets as fast as you can, and you can do this by matching up the bullets on the board with the patterns on your cards. The patterns need to be matched exactly, so if one card has a space between a bullet and another with a yellow next to it then that is the exact combination you need to achieve.
You'll need some help to make those combinations happen, and that's where Action Points come in. You start off with a set amount at the beginning of the game, and you'll need to spend these on your abilities, which allow you to move bullets across the board in various ways or gain more AP. If you can complete a pattern, you get to clear those bullets from your card and send them towards your opponent, which means on their next turn they will not only draw bullets from the main bag (which you both draw from every turn) but they'll also have to add your bullets to the mix. Every round you draw an increased number of bullets from the main bag indicated by the current number on the Intensity Track, so things get more frantic the longer the game goes, ensuring that someone will fall if they aren't clearing bullets as fast as they can.
The biggest learning curve is actually not the main gameplay loop, as after 2 turns I had a pretty solid handle on how bullets were placed on the board, how to clear them, and how to create my patterns. What did elude me for a while was utilizing all of those mechanics to their greater potential. For instance, I would create a pattern that got rid of 3 bullets, but then it would be pointed out how I could have used a bit more AP and a different card to turn that decent combination into a great one, removing 6 instead of 3 bullets from the board.
It will take you a bit to see all the options at your disposal, but that just comes with experience and time, and even without that deeper knowledge, the fast-paced nature of the gameplay is extremely addictive, especially since a full game doesn't take all that long to complete if both players are at least decently acquainted with the rules.
The mode I played was Free For All, but there is also a Team Mode, Score Attack, and Boss Rush, and the latter is actually pretty sweet. The reverse side of each Hero Board features an evil Boss version of the character, and 4 players can team-up and go against that Boss version for a cooperative experience.0comments
Level 99 Games has created something extremely fun and easy to play with Bullet♥︎, and we can't wait to play more. If it sounds up your alley you can find the game on Kickstarter right here!
As always, let us know what you think in the comments and feel free to find me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB for all things tabletop!