I was in two minds about whether to write this up, because it is a teensy bit NSFW, but I take solace in the thought that my ideas of NSFW content aren’t so much “tame” as “selectively bred to the point that I can only perceive the colour beige”, and besides which, I haven’t played an outright body horror-themed bullet hell/danmaku shooter before.
The two genres aren’t worlds apart – R-Type’s bosses, for example, are very Gigery, but they’re nothing like as icky as the creatures you face in Angel At Dusk, in which every projectile appears to be some species of maggot, and your ship is a sort of evolving flesh-moth faerie reminiscent of China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station. Perhaps I can interest you in the demo?
Angel At Dusk is “profusely genuine”, “explosively orthodox” and “uncompromisingly skeletal”, according to the Steam page. It’s “skeletal” both in the sense that it features skeletons – the opening levels seem to occur against the backdrop of a massive rib cage – and in that it’s a back-to-basics shmup without any particular gimmicks to weigh it down.
“Bones free themselves of flesh, laying waste to needless entrails,” the blurb goes on. I certainly did plenty of “laying waste” in the opening few stages, using a generous wide-angle autofire and chargeable energy blast to eviscerate creatures of flesh, chitin and unidentifiable wibbly bit. Speaking of wibbly bits, you can expect some bosses with prominent boobies. I’m pretty sure I glimpsed a couple of flying dongs, as well, though it may have been yet another variety of maggot. But this isn’t some softcore anime cheesefest – the UI looks like it was sicked up by David Cronenberg, and all the dongs and boobies are trying to kill you. Going by the screenshots, the mutant angel you’re controlling swells to monstrous proportions at higher levels, which presumably makes it harder to dodge projectiles, though only the core of the creature takes damage.
Angel At Dusk is out 12th January 2024, and is perhaps the least Christmassy thing you can play right now, which is probably the best argument for playing it. Just send the kids to bed first.
I’m keen to expand my knowledge of bullet hell games, though it depends on finding a good device to play them on – that Steam Deck purchase is looking more and more tempting. Do you have any recommendations? If you like body horror but aren’t a fan of shmupping, the game I referenced in the headline is worth a try too.
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