I move by centimetres at a time across the screen. Just as the game pauses, allowing me to plot the next course my fighter craft will take, I see the ruby head of a space centipede appear. I don’t know it yet, but the missile I launch and direct at this enemy’s supposed flight path is going to kill me.
The missile makes contact, but not with the beast’s head like I planned. As I inch back and forth to give my projectile time to reach its target, a sharp turn from the space centipede results in amputation rather than decapitation.
Two pieces of centipede, imbued only with momentum, continue to dart lifelessly across the screen. I realise there’s no way to dodge. My shields are out from a collision with a wall. I explode.
This is the nature of Mighty Tactical Shooter: it pretty much gives you what its title suggests it will. Johnny Marshall, AKA “The Mighty Git”, has created a hybrid that is both ruthless and rewarding.
A Dark Souls of shooters, perhaps. Did you ever play old 2D games where you kept pausing the action to try and make sure you didn’t mess up? Mighty Tactical Shooter not only encourages this practice; it’s a required method of play.
There is simply no way players could survive a level – let alone a boss fight – in this game without the pauses.
By breaking down a hardcore shooter into a second-by-second execution of bold strategy, Marshall has made other things possible. Players control whether their shields or weaponry are prioritised for charging.
They also choose what ordinance to launch and where it will land. Gravity fields can be placed to distort the path of bullets and the enemies themselves.
Missiles are sent off on lone missions or as clustered attacks against tougher foes. A laser cuts through lines of spacecraft, while bullets can be programmed to fire at speed or in specific directions.
The best thing about this setup is that any number of methods could work in getting through a level. It’s up to players to find the one that works for them.
(This is a recorded interview with the developer, complete with gameplay footage.)
Mighty Tactical Shooter is now out of its KickStarter and primed for the final stages of development. One feature I’m especially keen on is the ability to replay missions without all the pauses, allowing players to get a real-time look at their successes and failures.
A demo can be found here, which comes with two playable levels and two bosses to fight. You are hereby encouraged to try it for yourselves.
More about Mighty Tactical Shooter:
Written by Alex Lemcovich (MA Journalism Student at Birkbeck) Illustration by Alex Lemcovich