From the onset, Bite the Bullet was up against it when it came to winning over my affections. Normally, side scrollers can be hit or miss for me, so I went into Bite the Bullet with mixed feelings – throw in a few technical issues, and Bite the Bullet was definitely up against it. Did it manage to pull it off and win me round? Almost.
Bite the Bullet is a side-scrolling shooter from developer Mega Cat Studios. Combining RPG and roguelike elements, there is a lot going on under the hood, but luckily Bite the Bullet is fairly easy to play, which is a big tick in my book when it comes to games of this ilk.
Narrative is a big thing for me when it comes to games, and I will confess that the story in Bite the Bullet really didn’t do it for me. Basically, humans buggered up Earth to such a degree that those that could afford it took off into space, and those that couldn’t stay behind, slowly becoming irradiated and turning into ghouls. Eventually, the rich, space-bound humans returned, which put them on a collision course with those they had left behind.
So far so heard it a hundred times before, right? What I failed to mention is that in the intervening time, the space-bound humans developed a technology that allows them to eat anything and everything they want, because, you know, that’s mankind’s next great milestone in the story of our development. Who wouldn’t want to eat an irradiated ghoul?
Eating your enemies is one of the games main hooks, and much of the game’s systems are built around doing so, but the story does feel a bit over the top in order to shoe in this mechanic, and for me, it just didn’t work.
To that end, Bite the Bullet doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you are looking for a narrative-driven game, I’d look elsewhere, but that doesn’t feel like it was ever Bite the Bullets main goal. As I’ve already said, Bite the Bullet is easy to pick up and play, and in this day and age with so many narrative-heavy games, it was refreshing to be able to pick up something without having to refresh myself on every little detail or work out what I had to do next. With Bite the Bullet, that is always simple – shoot, and then eat, everything.
Bite the Bullet does look and feel very arcadey, and it’s to its credit. I found I would pick it up for a quick 10 or 20 minutes of play instead of sitting down for a full-blown four-hour gaming session, but Bite the Bullet feels ready-made for these experiences.
Gameplay is simple, too, with controls satisfying and responsive. Your moveset is fairly standard fare in that you can run, jump and shoot, with an added dash that allows you to zip across gaps quickly, and the ability to transform into a large beast, provided you have eaten enough genetic material to allow you to do so.
The action in Bite the Bullet is so frantic that I found I rarely used the transform ability – that and the fact that the ability relies on melee attacks, and I just preferred to keep my distance and shoot.
As I said, transforming into a beast relies on the amount of genetic material you have consumed, and eating does tie heavily into how you progress in Bite the Bullet. Eating nets you a range of bonuses, from restoring your health, providing you with genetic material which you use to fuel your transformation ability, or gaining skill points that are applied to a skill tree between levels, unlocking additional skills and attributes.
I was pleasantly surprised at the number of skills and stat boosts that Bite the Bullet’s skill tree offered, but I found that it was easy enough to score SP on each playthrough that I ended up applying them quite liberally to begin with. The difficulty curve doesn’t feel too steep, and whenever I did get to a section that was particularly tough I could easily replay a few levels, net myself some more SP and unlock a few more abilities, before going back for another attempt.
I much prefer this system in a roguelike to something like that found in Hades or Dead Cells; in those games death means you start again with a random set of abilities – in Bite the Bullet you do have some control over what you unlock, and you don’t need to worry about resetting your progress or having to start the game from the beginning if you die.
One of the biggest issues for me playing Bite the Bullet for review was a technical one. Bite the Bullet is dark – dark as in that it is to hard to even see what is happening on screen sometimes.I turned the brightness up to max on my TV and still couldn’t see what was going on, and at one point I was even beginning to question if something was up with my PS5 (thankfully it wasn’t). At the time of writing we have been assured a patch is coming, but playing Bite the Bullet on PS5 is made much harder to get into than it should be, basically because you can’t see anything.
In order to get this review completed I switched to my PS4 and found that the game was a little brighter in that I could actually see what I was doing, but it is still a dark game overall, and if this is a stylistic choice it feels a little off the mark to the point it detracts from the gameplay, and this is a shame.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised by Bite the Bullet. Simple yet satisfying gunplay, and levels that are challenging but not too frustrating, I can see Bite the Bullet being a game I continue to dip in to for many months to come.
Review: Bite the Bullet PS4, PS5
- Overall - Good - 6/106/10
Bite the Bullet's mix of arcade side scroller and RPG mechanics combine to create an enjoyable pick up and play experience, even if the story does leave a lot to be desired.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS4. Reviewed using: PS4, PS5