First things first: Bite The Bullet has one of the most kick ass soundtracks I think I’ve ever heard in a game. I literally left the title screen running while going about my business just to hear it – it’s so damn good. This trend continues through the game too, with some adrenaline pumping, heavy metal backing tracks complimenting the gameplay brilliantly. It’s also a fun game, if you need to know that sort of thing…
We play as either Chewie or Chewella, mercenaries who jump at any chance to take a bite out of the enemy – literally. This factor’s into the gameplay is a big way. While part of the game is a competent run and gun, rogue-lite shooter, Graffiti Games throw a twist in; before enemies are killed outright under a hail of gunfire, they become dazed. Once in this state we can choose to eat, rather than kill, them. This increases our Calorie, Fat and Protein counts, which in turn bestow a few options on us.
In the main, buffing up the Protein extends our damage output, while bulking up in conjunction with Fat gives our defence and life bars an upgrade. Each enemy consumed offer up varying amounts per stat, with human-type’s giving more protein, while robotic foes give more calories. The characters physiology changes in line with the stats too – too much Fat gives them a podgy belly as well as slowing them down and reducing the jump height. As in life, it’s about finding a good balance so we’re not too under nourished, without over doing it.
It’s not a fixed upgrade though; acts such as jumping or dodging around deplete these numbers pretty quickly, leading to a few instances early on where just traversing the stages meant I’d ran out of Protein and Fat quickly. Each food type features a pop up box detailing what we’ll gain from eating it, so it pays to think before we eat. Some will actively harm us, knocking our Fat or Protein levels down quickly, while poisoned enemies see us throw up upon consumption.
It’s a risk/reward affair with them though, as this is how we gain access to weapon upgrades. Using our gained nutrients we can re-roll damage output or weapon modifiers per gun in the inventory. These don’t always go in our favour, but when it does there’s some pretty cool upgrades to be had. From magnetically pulling enemies to us under fire, to sprouting poisonous bushes as we run and many more, there’s plenty of stuff to find. Enough nutrients will allow you to pick specific perks, though that’s easier said than done.
Character upgrades are also here, though the upgrade screen itself is not the easiest thing to navigate. At the end of each stage our character vomits all gained nutrients onto a set of scales. Earn enough XP before this to level up and we are presented with an extensive upgrade tree. There are several core routes that feed into differing styles of play to choose from, from going strictly vegetarian or robotic based, to being able to eat anything and everything. We’re not locked out of alternate paths, but it’s best to pick one and stick to it. Each node offers a small buff to one stat or another – such as % of Fat gained per ‘meal’– but along the way are bigger upgrades that offer up new abilities to play with.
All of this is in service to the fun combat system that wastes no time in getting hectic. Enemies are a constant threat, and so it’s rare that one of our guns isn’t firing at all times. An explosive shield lets us clear the area around us if we get overwhelmed, and each of the weapons – ranging from machine guns to shotguns, railguns and beyond – have a secondary fire mode that can be unlocked. The action is fast, and for the most part responsive. I did notice a little slowdown at times, but nothing that really affected my time with the game.
What did affect my time though were a few design choices that make certain aspects unclear or outright bugs that cost me whole levels of progression. I mentioned the upgrade screen is awkward to navigate, but the whole menu system is a bit of a cluster. The location of the cursor isn’t always clear, and some items that can be highlighted have no purpose. Pressing Start again brings up the option screen, but it’s overlaid on top of the item menu is plain white text, making it hard to read. I know this because at every level change or death, my control preferences reset back to the default Noob setting (the alternative Pro setting gives the game a finer level of control akin to a twin stick shooter). More of an annoyance than anything, but it’s still something I wouldn’t expect.
Navigation around some areas is tough too. We’re encouraged to explore to find all of the hidden teleporters that house extra levels or hidden bonus areas (the best being riding a giant hamster down a corridor filled with enemies to eat), but the map is all but useless. It’s colour-coded but there’s no key to say what is what. I did pick up some things such as purple for the teleporters, but even then the location of the dot representing the character isn’t wholly accurate so it can make navigation even harder. A couple of bugs, such as when the controls stop responding mid fight, also put a dampener on things, though again these are due to be patched out.
Outside of these fixable issues Bite The Bullet is a fun action title that adds in a unique mechanic to proceedings, in eating foes to gain abilities. It’s challenging without being too punishing, has a pretty good sense of humour, and offers plenty to sink your teeth into in its upgrades, hidden areas, and side quests. Plus, that soundtrack is just awesome. Like, seriously excellent.
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.