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Video Game / Void Bastards

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The comic-styled cover art.
Void Bastards is First-Person Shooter/Roguelike hybrid with Cel Shaded graphics, developed by Blue Manchu and released on PC through Steam on 28th May, 2019. In it, you control one of the nameless inmates of a space prison named Void Ark, which got stuck in space after its FTL drive broke down and several of its core components were stolen by Space Pirates, leaving the wardens with no options but to free an inmate at a time and send them out to scavenge the nearby derelict ships for parts.

Unlike most other shooter-roguelikes, it takes inspiration not from the fast-paced games like Doom and Quake, but from the slow, deliberate and immersive gameplay of Bioshock and its spiritual predecessor, System Shock 2. That's no surprise, though, since its lead developer, Jonathan Chey, had co-founded Irrational Games and worked on both games.

See Deep Sky Derelicts for a 2018 game with a similar premise and art style, but with a party, card-based, Turn-Based Combat.


Tropes present in Void Bastards:

  • 1-Up: Heart-starters act in this manner.
  • Action Bomb:
    • You can deploy Kitty Bots that'll distract your enemies before blowing up next to them. They can also be upgraded into Unstable Kitties, which will also release additional Clusterfrak bombs on death.
    • Friendly Tourists are enemies that act in the same manner, chasing you down before exploding. Other tourist enemies merely explode in place.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Several. Small enemies can use them too. Mostly these are little more than crawl spaces right between two adjacent areas that let you cut through rooms on the map.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Void Pirates are seemingly all women (if the generic pirate that's after you and the pirate captain are any indication).
  • And I Must Scream: The fate of your poor client at the end of the game. Despite saving the Void Ark at the command of the onboard AI, they are forcibly de-hydrated again, poured into a bag, and released to orbit the prison planet forever along with billions of other bags.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: Leaning heavily towards bitter. The Void Ark is able to safely leave the nebula, but your current playable Client has their sentence extended indefinitely due to the crimes they committed in the process of activating the FTL drive. Not to mention any other Clients you may have played as are already dead. The only "sweet" part is that the remaining prisoners survive and may eventually be released. Of course, this game being what it is, its all played for laughs.
  • Black Comedy: The sheer comedy of errors caused by the obscene amount of regulations instilled by the local Mega-Corp is one of the selling points of the game. The ending takes this to new heights.
  • Blackout Basement: Some of the ships no longer have working lighting systems.
  • Blessed with Suck: All modifiers are classified as either beneficial (displayed in green) or detrimental (displayed in red). Players may not agree with those classifications though. For example, the Out to Lunch modifier makes it so that there are no Citizens on the ship to start, but there are lots of Rifts (spawners). So while the ship is initially safer, it will be swarming with enemies after a few minutes.
    • Cursed with Awesome: On the other end is Lockdown, which causes all doors to start off locked. Locked doors take a few seconds to unlock, but cannot be opened by enemies. While the modifier can be annoying, it makes it less likely that enemies will wander into you from an unexpected angle.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing:
    • Screws are powerful Damage Sponge enemies that will never give up on a chase should you be unlucky enough to awaken them. Even the tooltips explicitly discourage you from trying to engage them.
    • Pirates are by far the strongest enemies in the game, having the best equipment and weapons, incredibly high health, and a tendency to swarm in large numbers once one of them detects you. Tellingly, there's actually an achievement for beating just one of them, and its currently one of the rarest achievements in the game.
  • Caffeine Bullet Time: Played with: interacting with a coffee machine triples your damage output and increases your movement speed for 30 seconds.
  • Cel Shading: The game looks like a sci-fi XIII.
  • Concussion Frags: Banger grenades look like a typical frag, but act more like concussion ones, since their range is very limited. However, it is offset by their small size, which lets you carry dozens of them at a time.
  • Convenient Decoy Cat: The KittyBots are versions you can deploy yourself. They make every enemy in the room chase it while running around wildly. They also explode after a time.
  • Cowardly Mooks: Scribes will use a powerful projectile attack and then flee. Veteran version leave exploding poop behind. Spooks will also vanish if the player looks directly at them.
  • Crapsack World:
    • CNT Prisoners are arrested and given permanent prison sentences for offenses as benign as "Smells bad next to the wrong person."
    • XON ambulances allow you to buy and sell vital organs from vending machines. Body parts are commonly found in personal luggage and storage lockers. These ships also include stores with gacha-like machines full of everything from spare organs to entire people.
    • The only food in the entire nebula is cheese and onion sandwiches and the rare tea biscuit. In the Lux ships, the restaurant room even includes the menu: each of the dishes have refined cuisine sounding names, but they're just cheese and onion sandwiches described with fancy synonyms.
      • Players may also receive a surfeit of food by blowing up void whales. Mmm!
    • Prison ships include "Mandatory Gene Therapy" and various kinds of torture.
    • Krell cargo vessels have shifts lasting years.
    • Otori Corp enforces total obedience by spying on their employees through their robot pets. And once you reach Depth 5? The Otori ships start including brainwashing rooms where a chair festooned with restraints sits in front of a screen flashing images that A) force the person to start seeing their Kittybot as a normal cat and B) say that they should "Tell it about your day" (a phrase which is immediately replaced by "Tell it your secrets.")
    • CNT vessels have rooms containing office cubicles. These rooms will always have a gunpoint, a securitybot-summoning camera, or both. The kicker? The way to keep out of their line of sight is to crouch below the cubicle walls (re: stay seated in your cubicle).
  • Critical Hit: You have a chance of scoring these, and some prisoners are innately better at it.
  • Damage Over Time:
    • Stumbling into leaked radioactive material inflicts you with a radiation status, which functions in this manner. While it'll eventually time out, the damage from leaving it unchecked is high enough to make you scramble for a radiation cleanse station ASAP. However, enemies who stumble into these spills will be affected in the same manner, unless they are explicitly immune to it.
    • You can also fire poisonous bolts from the Spiker. This is useful for Scribes and Spooks, which spend a lot of time running away from the player.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The demeanor of your drone handler, B.A.C.S.
  • Deflector Shields: Zec enemies are protected with one from the front, which will soak up plenty of physical damage, and render the electrical zapper outright useless. However, throwing a grenade behind them will immediately take them out.
    • You can use similar shield in your gadget slot as well.
  • Delinquents: The Juve enemies. Apparently they're used to tormenting or assaulting adults based on their dialog.
  • Difficulty Spike: The nebula has different levels of depth, with better loot, harder enemies and tougher ship lay-outs found deeper down. The jump from depth level 2 to 3 is unforgiving: Gunpoints are upgraded to the murderous Boompoints, the particularly unpleasant Patient enemies are introduced, oxygen is reduced, and the merit cost to do anything takes a sharp leap.
  • Double Speak: Tons of it. Prisoners are called "Correctional Clients". The entire crew of a ship being massacred is called "A personnel shortage". Prisoner death is referred to as an "End of life event." Physical beating are called "Blunt Force Therapy", and so on and so on.
  • Dude, Where's My Reward?: The client that risks their lives to restart the Void Ark's FTL drive is sentenced to eternal detention for all the theft and forgery required to do so.
  • Elite Mooks: Many enemies have veteran versions.
  • EMP: One of the ways of dealing with the mechanical enemies.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: The helm room of a ship normally only reveals item locations. However, spending merits there reveals enemy locations as well.
  • Flying Face: Patients are swarms of these.
  • Friendly Fire: Enemy attacks will hurt whatever they hit. This can be used as a last resort to deal with large numbers of foes in close quarters.
  • Glowing Eyes: Enemies like Juves and Patients have these.
  • Grenade Launcher: There's one, named Clusterfrak.
  • Hearing Voices: Prisoners with the Paranoid trait will hear random enemy voice lines, often ones that indicate imminent attack.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: The Screws and Secbots have massive hitpoints and are best avoided or subverted.
  • The Hedonist: Tourist enemies. They are helpless blobs that can do nothing but scream for pampering and explode.
  • Human Popsicle: The Void Ark prison ship keeps all its prisoners in a state of suspended animation by dehydrating them. You control whichever prisoner the wardens decided to rehydrate this time. If you die, a B.A.C.S. drone that acts as your backpack while you are alive will take all of the stuff you have collected and fly off back to Void Ark with it. The wardens will then rehydrate someone else, who'll be your next protagonist.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Eating food restores a chunk of your health.
  • Interface Screw: Several
    • The toxic garbage will make environment colors change rapidly and add a wavy effect to the screen.
    • Caffeine makes the camera rapidly shake during its effect.
    • The Colorblind trait makes the entire world grayscale.
    • The Overly Familiar trait replaces all enemy names with personal names like "Horace" and "Doug".
    • The Tunnel Vision trait removes the player's peripheral vision.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Spook enemies can cloak themselves.
  • Item Crafting: A key part of the game.
  • Item Farming: You can scavenge ships for food, fuel, ammo, and recyclable junk for as long as you want, and it prepares the player to be more prepared to venture in more difficult depths. Since the separation between depth levels is merely an arbitrary line on the nebula's map than can be crossed at will as long as you have fuel, going back to the easier part of the nebula's map is the safest way to farm stuff.
  • Just Add Water:
    • Items and upgrades are created from welding together obvious junk with odd bits of documentation.
    • In a much more literal sense, the prisoners on board the Void Ark have all been freeze-dried and powdered, and are revived by having water poured over them.
  • Limited Loadout: While you have a lot of toys to place with, the game balances it by limiting your character to three slots: normal weapon, explosive one, and a gadget.
  • Locked Door: Played with, since now you are the one who can lock doors, which is enough to stop the most mindless enemies.
  • Magical Defibrillator: The Heart-starters shock you back to life if killed, and even restore all health.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Many of the enemies are these. Like in Bioshock, a certain variety, the SecBots, only attacks if you get spotted by a security camera.
  • Metal Slime: The PuppyBot. Constantly flees while making annoying sounds, but contains a valuable Part if destroyed.
  • Mind-Control Device: Scrambler is a piece of equipment that converts non-mechanical enemies to your side.
  • Mini Mook: The Juves. Very low hitpoints, but they are fast and can move through vents to flank players.
  • Mook Maker:
    • Rifts in the floor of the derelict will spit out new mutant citizens on a timer.
    • Certain ships have the "Out to Lunch" trait, where the ship starts completely abandoned. After a few minutes all hell breaks loose when dozens of citizens spawn at once.
  • Nail 'Em: There are riveter and stapler weapons, which fire rivets and staples. In FPS standards, the stapler works like a shotgun and the riveter an SMG.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: GeneStorms will replace one of your traits with another at random.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: At the end of the game, the surviving playable client has their sentence extended indefinitely due to committing, at the instruction of B.A.C.S., the murder, forgery, and other illegal activities needed to activate the FTL drive.
  • Optional Stealth: You can sneak by many of the enemies.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: Entering a wormhole will make you jump to a random node on the starmap.
  • Oxygen Meter: One is always present, since you are exploring wrecked spaceships which lost all their atmosphere a long time ago. There are rooms with stored pressurized oxygen that can replenish your supply, though, or even double it if you pay up in merits.
  • Radiation-Immune Mutants: Whilst most of the enemies are hurt by radiation, Glowtrotters are a source of it, and leave pools of radioactive goo on the floor when they explode. A derelict containing them quickly becomes completely toxic.
  • Secret Police: Spook enemies dress in trenchcoat, sunglasses, and fedora. The coat is parted to reveal a mass of tentacles when they attack.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: The Stapler functions in this manner.
  • Smoking Is Not Cool: Prisoners with a "Smoker" trait will periodically cough uncontrollably, which can alert nearby enemies.
  • Space Pirates: Some of the derelict ships will already have these doing their own scavenging when you arrive. Needless to say, they won't be happy to see you, and they give a much better fight than most of the usual ship denizens. Moreover, their ships will be tethered to the derelict, preventing your escape unless you can untether them...or loot a torpedo, and blow their ship up with it.
  • Space Whale: Void Whales are one of the greatest threats you can encounter, as they can straight-up eat the entire ship you are on.
  • Tactical Door Use: Doors are a strategic resource on derelicts. Closed doors break line of sight at the very least, and can be locked to prevent regular enemies from passing through. Useful for making impromptu jails for dangerous foes or sealing a room with a Nebula Rift inside. Just be warned that locking and unlocking takes a few seconds and you can wind up on the same side as the monster.
  • Teleport Gun: There's the Rifter, whose first shot instantly sucks the enemy into hyperspace. Then, the weapon continues to hold it there indefinitely, until its next shot deposits it back onto the ship. The usual tactic is to scoop up the tough enemies with it, and then place them into inaccessible vents and the like, which they'll never escape from.
  • Throat Light: Patients are floating heads with bright blue lights emanating from their wide-open mouths and eyes. Scribes get the same.
  • Universal Poison: Dart gun's projectiles are tipped with one.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Contrasting the English accents most common in the game, the blood-thirsty Space Pirates come with Scottish accents so thick a player might take a bit of time to sort out exactly what they're yelling about.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Running out of food makes the player lose a lot of health every day they go hungry, until they starve to death.
  • Written Sound Effect: Played straight as part of the game's sci-fi comic style. You can even guess which enemy is awaiting behind a closed door based on the word describing its unique sound effect.


Example of: