From the depths of the most hardcore realms of gaming comes the ∀kashicverse – Malicious Wake–, a STG developed by Endless-Shirafu. It’s one of the few original full releases of Comiket 83 and the kind of project that you don’t really see every day. Under development for the last couple of years, heavily inspired by doujin legends like Hellsinker and Radio Zonde, as well as CAVE’s classic themes (bees, bees, bees!), the ∀kashicverse is a sensory overload of the awesome variety.
The game features a mysterious fusion of the spiritual world mixed with digital and extremely high-tech machinery, all accompanied by a background of absolute madness that’s closer to an LSD trip than what you would expect from a bullet hell shooter. The great soundtrack isn’t just background music either. It amplifies this mood and becomes an active part of the experience: plenty of enemy formations, stage events and bullet patterns will react to the crazy beats or certain parts of a song, creating an excellent sensation of synchrony.
Let’s skip the fine details of the mechanics and scoring quirks and go to the essentials: the character has one basic shot function, a spread cannon that can be focus-fired when pressing the slow button. It’s a pretty standard, but multi-purpose weapon that is effective in a lot of situations. However, the meat of the mechanics is present in the Method System. The Methods are special attacks, ranging from melee energy scissors to guided laser missiles and bombs. They can be deployed using the Method gauge, which has 8 levels and is activated by using special fighting game-like directional commands.
You can check a display of the basic methods available in the video below:
Here is how it works: upon pressing the command input button you’ll enable a bullet-slowing aura. After that you need to input certain directional commands and press the fire button to enable the desired Method. Sounds very tricky, and more akin to a fighting game than a shmup but once you get used to it, Methods come out naturally! Each attack costs a different amount of gauge levels so you could, for example, release a couple of low gauge attacks to keep strong bullet waves away or trigger some of the most powerful Methods to wipe out everything on screen.
Certain Methods actually have multiple attacks at the cost of extra gauge levels. Moreover, some enemies can only be dealt with Methods as they’ll reflect your main spread cannon. This system presents a very strategic and “choose-your-own-fighting-style” approach. Will you bomb the hell out of everything? Are you going to deliver surgical strikes? Will you trick the enemy AI to attack a ghostly replica of you? Will you get up close and personal and melee things? Or would you rather dodge bullets to build up the gauge to the max and launch the Eliminator? You just have to lose the fear to the insane bullet spawns and speed as the slowing aura will help you deal with that. Clever use of this system is what will get you out alive of the most dangerous situations!
The game appears to have some important updates in the works but it’s already awesome as it is! However, it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted. Despite that, it proves to be a powerful addition to the PC STG arsenal and a great doujin game overall. Like a famous old ‘80s song says: Dare, dare to believe you can survive!
For more details, check out the sweet ∀kashicverse homepage at http://endless-shirafu.com/akashicverse/index.html