Review – Task Force Kampas

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re back in bullet hell territory. It’s one of my favorite gaming genres, even though I’m the first one to admit that it has been oversaturated and devoid of creativity since Ikaruga came out almost two decades ago. Most of the games I’ve played in the past few years have only managed to differentiate themselves by having “unique” settings and maybe a brand new upgrade/progression system. EastAsiaSoft’s Task Force Kampas looks like yet another dull albeit enjoyable shooter at first hand, yet another addition to the inflated library that comprises the bullet hell genre. Thankfully, it does have one or two interesting features to make it stand out a little bit from the rest of the crowd.

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The squid. The easiest boss.

Task Force Kampas isn’t a shooter that tries to invest in a story, like Jamestown+, or depend on the sheer ridiculousness of its enemy design. It tries to stand out by using the single most overused feature in indie gaming, something that hasn’t been used that much on bullet hell shooters: procedural generation. This isn’t a roguelike, but it does rely heavily on throwing randomly generated waves of enemies at you, taking notes of how long you can survive until your eventual demise. It’s less of a shooter with a beginning, middle, and end, and more of an endurance test. How long can you keep shooting space eyeballs and giant mutant crabs until your ship gets blown up?

The more enemies you kill, the stronger your laser becomes. That, the addition of a secondary shooter if you collect enough space dinosaurs (no joke), and the occasional spawning of a power-up in between waves, are the only upgrades you’ll be able to acquire during your playthrough. Despite being an endurance test, you can actually “beat” the game if you manage to survive all of its waves. Doing so will reward you with some new ships, each one with different attributes, and some visual filters. The game is also one of the most straightforward platinum trophies I have ever earned on my PSN account. It only makes you achieve a certain amount of defeated enemies, bosses, points, etc. It’s not a piece of cake, but it’s not complicated at all to achieve a platinum in an hour or even less.

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Giant space mutant crabs are the cause of around 700 thousand deaths a year.

Another nice gameplay feature in Task Force Kampas is the fact that your ship can automatically replenish its health meter, despite the fact it’s frail as a piece of paper. All you have to do is not use your laser blasters for a few seconds. That’s easier said than done, because just like every single other bullet hell shooter ever created, your best defensive mechanism is the fact that you can shoot at everything that wants to kill you before they actually manage to do so. Still, it’s a nice “second chance” given to you in case you get shot once or twice. It works surprisingly well against bosses, since they have attack patterns that can be memorized.

Task Force Kampas‘ gameplay is where it truly shines. Otherwise, the game is as by-the-books as you could expect. It’s not visually pleasing at all, as it features simplistic visuals, dull backgrounds, and it only uses half of the actual screen (it’s a vertically scrolling shooter). The soundtrack is actually quite decent and catchy, even though it’s probably comprised of three or four songs. Considering the fact that most playthroughs will last between three to five minutes, that wasn’t exactly an issue.

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This game might be procedurally generated, but all backgrounds end up looking the same. They’re always one or two planets appearing on the background.

I’ll admit I expected little from Task Force Kampas other than a quick and unenthusiastic pastime. It ended up being a lot better than I could have expected. It’s ugly and limited, that’s for sure, but it’s tons of fun. It’s a perfect “pick up and play” experience that’s stupidly challenging, but not enough to be considered frustrating. The fact that its levels are procedurally generated also makes the game a bit more replayable than its peers. This is not a game changer on the ever saturated bullet hell scene, but given its price and amount of content it provides, you can do a lot worse.

 

Graphics: 5.0

I appreciate some of the enemy designs, especially the bosses, but Task Force Kampas is a very simplistic and visually repetitive game. The fact it only uses half of the screen only adds salt to the wound.

Gameplay: 8.0

Your standard bullet hell gameplay, but with some interesting additions, such as regenerating health while you’re not shooting (easier said than done) and procedurally generated enemy waves.

Sound: 7.0

There are very few tracks in here, but they are catchy enough to make you forget about that fact.

Fun Factor: 9.0

For such a simplistic game, Task Force Kampas is surprisingly fun and very replayable. It’s easy to pick up and play, its gameplay is polished, its level of difficulty lies between challenging and brutal, and it does know how to constantly shower you with motivational awards, such as extra ships and PSN trophies.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Task Force Kampas is available now on PS4, Xbox One, Vita and Switch.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Task Force Kampas was provided by the publisher.

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