Short & Sweet- Ether Loop

I follow a lot of indie developers on Twitter and one day Moon Lens announced that their game was going to be released soon and I figured I’d give them a shout out that I was going to buy their game. I really feel like I should be taking more time to delve further into the community indie games that many people gloss right over.

Ether Loop was developed by Moon Lens and published by the former and Huiyin Studios. The game is a 2D top-down, bullet hell shooter with a lite glazing of rouge-lite elements. The game retails for $11.99.

The plot is as followed: You are Ether, an adventurer that is minding their own business and before you know it, they are dragged down into a mysterious cave. He finds there an amulet and a weapon, commandeers both because the person who it belonged to has long since died and ventures forth into the unknown labyrinth of caves.

Honestly, that’s it. I’m not really upset that the game has virtually no plot because I just don’t really care. I bought the game for the bullet-hell and rouge-lite not for the story.

The gameplay is where Ether Loop does a lot better. My dumb ass used the keyboard and mouse almost exclusively, so WASD moves, the left-mouse is to shoot the stuff that kills the bad guys, the right-mouse is your dodge. Moving the mouse aims the gun in whatever direction you see fit. On ocassion the space bar activates the item that is in your item slot.

As the player traverses each cave section loot can be acquired from either random chance or purchasing from a variety of vendors. Items like buffs to critical hit chance, critical hit damage, enemy seeking projectiles, base damage, rate of fire and status effects (like burn, freeze and electric) all litter the corridors of each cave section. There are not too many of these items so you can easily see a majority of the items within a few runs.

Use items do not necessarily expand gameplay much, even to a point where I even forgot that I had an item during a run. A mushroom that adds fire rate, a freeze effect or knocking away enemies away with a gust of wind are a few items to name.

One of the more interesting items in the game are the +1 projectile and -20% damage and the “consume weapons” that restricts Ether to only one heart. These items seem great in theory but sometimes it doesn’t work out that well with the weapon you obtain throughout your run. I like the risk v. reward that these items contain, it really feels like the difficulty ramps up when I had an awful weapon but then I ended up steamrolling the main stage bosses.

Weapons are only available through defeating mini-bosses that reside somewhere within the ten-block cave. There are not many weapons to choose from but they are different enough to allow you to take a sufficient amount of time to experiment with different builds. 3-way shotguns, fireball launcher and an icicle sniper rifle are a few of the exotic weapons that Ether can obtain throughout each run at random.

Each section has a theme and enemies that fit said theme. The first section is a cave filled with gleaming crystals, so naturally the enemies have crystals incorporated in their character design. Bug level has bugs, Fire section has fire spewing creatures and ice section has lizards and yetis. The enemies that incorporate each section are cannon fodder for when the moment comes that you need to fight the big baddie of the section.

Bosses of each level are significantly larger in size and take a hell a lot of damage, which makes them something to fear. The bosses give the genre “bullet-hell shooter” to this game. Balls of light that will deplete your fucking life force are always coming at you. Bosses usually (except for the ice dragon) have a section where they allow the player to utilize the dodge and get damage in but getting to that section is really damn fun.

Ether Loop lasted about three hours before I completed it the first time, but I still go back to it when I have a few minutes before shifting over to another game to play with friendos. I have spent a total of roughly ten-hours on the game so far. It is a good game. It is short, but it is sweet. You can see the love that Moon Lens put into the game. Each level is aesthetically different then the others, the mini-bosses are fun, the main boss battles are always nail-biters NO MATTER how many times you beat the game. The Rouge-lite elements are scarce and I do wish there was a bit more of variety but overall I’m happy.

Browsing the internet while waiting for friends is overrated anyway, just buy this game and have something fun to do while you wait for them.

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