An Indie Worth Its Salt – Bite The Bullet Impressions
Bite The Bullet is an exciting new run ‘n gun platformer with the added twist of having the ability to eat your opponents to gain an advantage in combat. This strange but creative twist helps to form Bite The Bullet‘s gameplay loop of killing, eating, loosely platforming, and upgrading. But while it is bizarrely satisfying to finish off your enemies by eating them whole, this mechanic can occasionally make this indie dish taste bittersweet. Its frantic and fun gunplay and vibrant levels are a thrill to play, but the experience is sometimes soured by the game’s own design.
The game starts you off with the choice between two protagonists, Chewie and Chewella, who are tasked with collecting DNA from the mutated humans, called ghouls, overrunning the Earth. Of course, you dont get this DNA by collecting a hair sample or saliva, your objective is to feast on as many enemies as you can. The eating mechanic not only drives the plot, but is also a huge aspect of the gameplay.
ForAllNerds TV Link – Bite The Bullet – Gameplay and Review: https://youtu.be/0atr7lFWRHk
Eating your enemies influences almost every aspect of the game, actually, it’s a part of the story, the gameplay, your various combat abilities, and even which branch of the upgrade tree you spec into. I was even surprised to see each enemy has a nutritional value that pops up when they’re ready to eat, which includes their fats, proteins, and calorie count. These little stats aren’t just to add to the theme of eating either, eating too much fat can make your character appear bigger, and eating protein keeps your character muscular.
Apart from eating, the gameplay mainly consists of running through levels, gunning down ghouls and robots alike, while enjoying the bombastic heavy metal soundtrack and vibrantly colored, gorgeous 2D backgrounds. There’s a satisfying variety of guns, from “A-Salt” rifles and shotguns to flamethrowers and grenade launchers, and the often frantic flow of combat are a satisfying dance of gunfire and meat chunks. With each level, the game adds more enemies and more enemy types to force you to move around and develop a strategy for when to attack, when to eat to regain health, and when to use your abilities. The first level starts you off pretty slow, but quickly I was running and jumping around, frantically stopping to eat while eyeing where enemies are to determine my next move. It’s a thrilling experience to survive a hectic encounter by the skin of your teeth by timing when to eat and when to shoot. The boss fights of each level were also fantastic, using readable patterns that weren’t too difficult to learn, but difficult enough to be glad that at least their checkpoints are placed right before the fight.
While the combat was satisfying and exciting, I did take issue with the game’s button layouts.
There are two control sets: the casual, where the jump button is A and the fire button is X, and the pro, where the jump button is on the left trigger and the fire button is the right trigger. For the length of my playtime, I was wondering, why am I not able to just change the jump button to A and the fire button to the right trigger? I’m not accustomed to jumping with the left trigger in anything but Mirror’s Edge, so attempting to use it in this setting felt awkward to get used to. This led to moments of frustration when I would mistime jumps due to the fraction of a second longer it would take to pull the left trigger as opposed to tapping the A button.
I also took issue with the game’s hard to navigate and sometimes confusing upgrade menu. Levels are split up between multiple sections, and between these sections, you get to access your skill tree, and spec into whichever branch/diet you would like. Your options are being vegetarian, being a carnivore, strictly eating robots, or just being able to eat everything in front of you, and you’re locked into your choice branch until the end. The abilities in the skill trees are fairly creative, utilizing a ton of ways to turn food into a weapon, such as vomitting napalm, or bulking up to become the powerful Zombro, a buffed up, melee-based transformation. Quite a lot of the skill tree’s makeup, though, are intangible numbers-based upgrades that feel like a waste to use points on. The abilities are useful and fun, but to unlock them, I have to dedicate a fraction of my XP to upgrades that convert the calories I’ve eaten to fat or protein every 3 seconds, which is something I can’t track while playing, so I completely forget about it. These upgrades further tie the game with its theme of food and eating, but they’re so granular to the point of being inconsequential, making the actual combat abilities feel like a chore to unlock.
The menu for the skill tree is also far too zoomed in, with no way to zoom out. Attempting to search for abilities often had me sliding all around the menu wildly, hoping I didn’t fly too far past something I’d want to take a look at.
Bite The Bullet is an enjoyable and unique take on the shoot ’em up genre. It nails the meat and potatoes of the genre, being the gunplay, and adds its own unique elements that separates itself from its contemporaries in a genre filled with copycat mechanics. And while some of its problems are tied with its theme of eating, its core gameplay is satisfying enough to continue blasting through levels and devouring bosses. It’s a game worth having in your library that you attempt to clear a level in every now and then. It’s a run ‘n gun worth its salt, despite its problems, but that’s just my food for thought.