Home » Astro Duel 2: Where Platforming Action Meets Space Combat In Multiplayer Mayhem

Astro Duel 2: Where Platforming Action Meets Space Combat In Multiplayer Mayhem

by Indie Wavemakers

Jumping straight into the game, Astro Duel 2 seems chaotic, untethered, and messy. Persist with the game a bit more, and you’ll realise there is an unpolished gem within the chaos.

Battles are quick, chaotic, and even desperate oftentimes! Players may squeeze the trigger one too many times in a pinch, only to find themselves staring down an enemy spaceship with an empty barrel. I’ve found myself in such situations way too many times, only to desperately spam the dash button, darting around the arena like a cockroach dodging a slipper. With enough experience though, players start to learn the various situations and become combat-hardened veterans. Every shot becomes planned and rehearsed, every hit is purposeful and intentional. 

Astro Duel 2, as the developers put it, is a “space combat game for up to 6 players”, well it’s basically a free for all, last man standing game where you want to blast your opponents into smithereens! Each player plays as a pilot in a top down setting, moving around the various arenas either in their spaceship, or running around in pilot form. Every arena is divided into Space or Gravitational areas, with the player jumping into his spaceship while they are in the Space area, and running around in pilot form as if in a platforming game while in the Gravitational areas.

Combat is fairly straightforward, spaceships have limited ammo to fire forward, recharging after a few seconds. All ships are able to dash forward with a small cooldown. There are special power-ups available for pick-up, granting the player limited use weapons. They bestow homing missiles, laser beams, or other special weaponry to vaporize your enemies!

When a spaceship is destroyed, the respective pilot escapes and is vulnerable. While in pilot form, any touch from an enemy will kill the player, be it a bullet shot or being rammed by another spaceship, granting the killer a point. The pilot can only scramble around defenceless, armed with a simple melee attack that can kill other pilots but does nothing to spaceships. If the player manages to scuttle around staying alive for a few seconds, their spaceship rematerializes and they are back in the dogfight!

There is quite a lot going for the game, content wise there are different spaceships and skills, various power-ups, arenas, and an in-game shop to unlock more of them. Feature wise it is jammed packed too, spaceship combat, platforming combat, arenas with destructible areas, etc.

The game tries its best to bring back the good ol’ days of couch gaming, and for the most part, it succeeds, combat is snappy and fun, and the social experience is sneakily fun, preying on the competitive nature of people. Combat kills are genuinely addictive, with the player constantly having to plan their kills and escape routes all in one go. 

While the game is fun and jam-packed with content, the presentation can get too chaotic, with the pixel art blending together in the crucial moments. Outside of combat, the art has a distinct look, with bright palettes for the arenas, old school portraits for the pilots, and SNES era pixel art for the ships.

There is a particular feature that I did appreciate, at the end of each game, players are able to save the replay of the last kill as a gif file with a single button press.

Overall the game is exciting and great fun with friends, harkening back to early console generations, where couch gaming was the norm and gatherings were an excuse to play games together. Combat can be hectic but also strategic, with players jumping in and out of combat, plotting their next move or firing on sight! Arenas with gravitational areas provide another dimension of strategy as the player decides whether to go into pilot mode or spaceship mode.

Players who have opportunities for couch gaming should not pass this game up, for it is a great old school gaming experience with modern combat!

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