A bullet hell shooter, where the only thing that can kill you is yourself.
Developed by Apt Games
Released in 2020
You’d be right to be confused when you watch the reveal trailer for ‘Terror Squid’. Showing no in game footage, the surreal promotion shows a couple in a bar, vomiting black ink as the world around them deforms. Drenched in neon colours with a distorted 80’s electro sound track, it is hard to ignore the ‘Stranger Things’ inspiration. The phenomenally successful Netflix series as well as shows like ‘Glow’, ‘Halt and Catch Fire’ and films like ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ have made modern video gamers glamorise a time 40 years ago. Nostalgia is the real strange thing. Like a demogorgon it sneaks up on people slowly over time, the memory of the unpleasant times fade and they’re replaced by a rose tinted idealization. The passing of several decades can work wonders for an era’s cultural reputation, especially among those too young to have a first-hand memory of it. The 80s were a decade of awful unemployment, the arrival of AIDS and the lingering threat of nuclear war, but no one wants to remember that. It’s much more fun to throw on a shell suit, listen to some synthesizers and play some games that look like ‘Super Mario Bros’ and ‘The Legend of Zelda’. But even these games are false representation of the entirety of the eighties. Both didn’t come out till five years into the decade, and there was a whole lot of other games before them.
We had the Sinclair Spectrum with its garish colours , we had the five minute wait while games loaded from cassettes assaulting our ear drums with high pitched noises. One of my earliest brushes with game playing came at a friend’s house when we played ‘Space Wars’ on the ‘Vectrex’. This system has largely been forgotten which is a shame because it was pioneering. Had it been more successful, it is likely the Vectrex could have changed the home computer market. First released in 1982 the system offered vector graphics, using lines rather than pixels to create images. While other systems connected to a television set, the Vectrex came with its own monitor, which was oriented vertically rather than horizontally. The American video game crash meant it sold poorly, however it was critically praised thanks to its use of 3D and rotational effects to achieve unprecedented graphics.
It is this look that has been influential in the design of ‘Terror Squid’. Arguably it’s a modern retro inspired game that is actually more reflective of games available during the early eighties. It celebrates vector graphics, lavishing upon them modern visual flourishes. It a look that pairs wonderfully with the sound track; a tribute to the music of Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and ABC. However, sadly ‘Terror Squid’ is actually a game that’s stylish and authentic, but lacks enough varied gameplay to be enjoyable for a long period.