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Voxel Blast Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Voxel Blast is a retro-themed 3D shoot-em-up marred by cumbersome gameplay and frustrating enemies. Each stage is set in a small, confined sphere that makes every battle feel the same. Even with new enemies and boss fights, Voxel Blast ranges from dull to infuriating. Rating: 30%
Voxel Blast
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  • Review Score:

  • D+
When you pitch a game as cross between After Burner, StarFox and Tempest, you better believe my interest is piqued. That's the case with Voxel Blast, the newest space shoot-em-up from Ceiba Software & Arts. It's a simple concept that pulls inspiration from some of the best action games of all time. But instead of reminding me of the good old days, this shooter left me angry and frustrated.

When a giant space supercomputer takes control of TITAN 4, it's up to a seasoned fighter pilot to rush in and terminate the rogue agents. This sends us on what should have been an exciting adventure filled fast action and intense dogfights. Sadly, Voxel Blast squanders its promising premise by trapping players in tight areas with some of the most aggressively annoying bad guys I've ever seen.

At first blush, Voxel Blast seems large and wide-open. You weave your way through objects that look like giant flying pretzels in an attempt to find portals filled with enemies. But don't be fooled by the vastness of space, because the moment you zip through a portal, the game switched to a small, confined sphere that will test your love for shoot-em-ups.

Inside the sphere, players will contend with wave after wave of polygonal enemies. The goal is to shoot them all down, exit the sphere and rush to the next portal. Do this enough times and you'll go face-to-face with a tough boss creature. This plays out over the course of a number of stages, each with a slightly different environment to explore.

These open areas hint at a much more interesting game, but alas, most of the action takes place inside the sphere. This gives the game a claustrophobic feeling and makes dealing with the enemies a lot more difficult than it should be. There's not enough room in the enclosed battle zone to fly away, and there's never anything to hide behind. Trying to escape runs the risk of slamming into the side of the level, which seems to take more damage than simply being shot.

It doesn't help that our little space ship is frustratingly difficult to control. It flies forward and that's about it. There are no barrel rolls, quick turnarounds or other evasive maneuvers, you simply steer and accelerate. The cumbersome gameplay also makes it difficult to keep track of the enemies, which have a tendency to fly behind you taking cheap shots. With no place to hide and impossibly fast enemies attacking from all sides, there are moments when Voxel Blast feels hopeless.

Voxel Blast (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

To the game's credit, some of the different ships will make these stages easier to handle. The various crafts come with unique skills and attributes, as well as wildly different shapes. But even with the best ship, you're still stuck in a series of monotonous levels confined to tiny spheres. Even when the game is throwing out new enemies, every battle feels the same. Voxel Blast is as repetitive as it is frustrating.

Thankfully, the dull campaign is not the only mode. The game breaks free of the sphere in the Challenge mode, which sees players scrambling to hit a bunch of checkpoints in time. This is, for all intents and purposes, a race. Sadly, without anybody to compete against and crummy level designs, it's hard to get much enjoyment out of running through checkpoints. Had the developer figured out a way to marry this race mode with the standard combat, this had the potential to be an addictive variation on the theme. But instead of being action-packed, these challenges range from dull to infuriating.

While disappointing, I can get over Voxel Blast being nothing like After Burner, StarFox or any of the other games used to attract attention. What I can't overlook is the cumbersome gameplay, frustrating difficulty and repetitive action. There are occasional glimmers of innovation throughout the experience, but being confined to a small empty sphere just isn't much fun.
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