May 6th, 2009 | By Zak
Caster is a 3D shooter and a gem for the price ($5). Caster takes us to the world of Middon, over-run by insect-like Flanx (big bugs, worms and crabs). Your objective as a Caster recruit: destroy the Flanx. The game revolves around you traveling the world, acquiring new weapons and abilities and using those abilities to complete the aforementioned Flanx smashing task. Killing Flanx gives you energy and upgrades. Combine that with other objectives and level bosses and my nostalgic bones were giddy with memories of Panzer Dragoon. It wasn’t all pretty, but one of the coolest indie games I’ve played lately.
This game is a delightful shooter, plain and simple. You shoot things to bring life and shoot to bring death. The game controls keyboard (A,S,D,W), with the mouse used to aim at and shoot baddies. The game ran smoothly without freezing or stalling. New stages bring new weapons and abilities, which you can use to level up weapon attacks, health, dashing and jumping abilities – think Superman. Destroying the Flanx brings you energy and upgrades. Each new weapon has different effects; like homing projectiles, for example. The action is charged and you have to put on your strategy cap when dealing with the enemies. Weapon choice is important; certain enemies will swarm you, while others with barrage you with firepower. You have to decide what weapon will prevail and how you can use them to set traps for the Flanx (i.e. – opening up the earth to lava while baddies are rushing you). Pick you battles carefully and don’t be afraid to shoot on the go – it’s sort of the point. Remember to dash!
The graphics were the only spot where this game fell short for me. Honestly the game plays at a level beyond the graphics, but for an indie game designed by one dude, the graphics are delightful. I loved the distortion effects the weapons generated. Another great feature of the game is environmental damage. During a colossal melee between you and Flanx enemies, the environment retains the marks of your battle. You can raise hills or break through the earth’s crust; sometimes I was surprised by the unassuming graphics. When I was dashing past enemies, the motion blurs gave me the feeling of speed and added a new depth to the game. That said, the graphics are straightforward and remind me of earlier 3d shooter games – albeit beefed up with fantastic particle effects. I think the graphics have room for growth for some gamers, but maybe we’ve just been spoiled by today’s top sellers.
The music is a great match for the sometimes frenetic gameplay. Upbeat electronic sounds and high tempo balanced with the more mellow pieces and the music made the game all the more enjoyable. Mike Smith did a great job making the music and sound effects match what he wanted to convey onscreen. Much kudos Elecorn – enough said.
Caster would have a strong lasting appeal – if it lasted. The biggest disappointment I had was how short the game was. By the time I was ripping Flanx to pieces on an epic godlike scale, the game seemed to be over with. Elecorn’s Mike Smith has stated on his site that this was but the first installment and gamers who fork over the $5 will have access to the following chapters for free. In a recession, it doesn’t get any better than that.
Mike Smith has made an elegant and surprising pleasant game. The gameplay and structure are solid. The graphics need a little work and the length of the game is promised to be improved upon. All in all, I have to say Caster is one of the best compiled games I’ve played in recent memory. I would happily spend $10 to keep up the good fight against the Flanx. In conclusion, this game gave my fingers a work out – and a slight god complex. Pick it up!