The trailer for this game came out a little while ago and knocked my socks off, and now that I’ve spent some time with the final release, I am happy to say that Patent Blaster does not disappoint!
Patent Blaster is wacky, twitchy, pixely fun. Essentially a sidescrolling shooter, the game has you blasting away at enemies that are based on hilariously bad patent art, like the kind found on contextfreepatentart.tumblr.com.
Patent Blaster could even be called a roguelike (or at least a roguelike-like). Before each game session, you choose from four randomized character builds. Weapons and abilities are hilariously named from randomly selected Wikipedia entries. You can improve your character as you progress through the game, but if you get killed, that’s it for that character. There are also randomly generated levels, enemies, and loot drops. The randomness along with the permadeath make Patent Blaster almost endlessly replayable.
Different enemies exhibit different behaviors. Some fly, some hover, some have shields, some hatch out of giant inanimate versions of themselves and come pouring out to attack you. They use different weapon types and have different weapon resistances, all randomly assigned each time you play. You will also encounter special enemy types such as revenants, thieves, exploders, birthers, and even your evil twin. There are bosses, as well. You have access to most of the abilities available to enemies, as well as other powerups such as increases in your max. health and my favorite: eating the flesh of your fallen enemies to gain health (you actually suck up the little red pixels they leave behind when you obliterate them)!
Careful attention was paid to the game’s interface. The crosshair conveys range and reload information, and you can choose to employ auto-aim instead of using the mouse at all. With everything constantly moving around, auto-aim isn’t perfect, and reload time is a constant factor, so auto-aiming is simply another style of play and not a way to make landing shots easier. You don’t have to worry about equipping items, weapons, and shields–that is done automatically–and if you gain the ability to hover or to fly, you can toggle it on or off with a key press.
One of the most satisfying things about this game (besides its quirky sense of humor) is the massive amount of pixels being flung around as you and your foes blow each other to smithereens. The chaos can almost get out of hand, and that’s when the game is at its best!
At its core, Patent Blaster is not just a shooter, but a piece of social criticism (and art criticism). You are destroying not only pieces of awkwardly drawn “art”; you are taking aim at the patent system itself. I won’t go into the problems with the system here, but Patent Blaster’s designer, David Stark, has a post about why he doesn’t like it that is worth a read: http://www.patent-blaster.com/nice_business/
I really hope this game doesn’t fly (or hover) under the radar. The fun to be had is well worth the $5 asking price. You can even give the demo a try first, and I highly recommend that you do!
Get more information, download the demo, and buy the game at the official Patent Blaster website: http://www.patent-blaster.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul, or Phack, (@indiegamehunt) writes and edits articles here on IndependentGaming and is on the staff at GameJolt. He posts stuff at indiegamehunt.tumblr.com and he is the founder of twinehub.weebly.com. He also dabbles in game design, cartooning, and non-interactive fiction, but most of his time is dedicated to raising his precocious toddler.