Bore Blasters review: achieve catharsis as a dwarf yelling and shooting mud

By admin Apr14,2024

I tried to look up the plot of Bore Blasters, because my focus when playing the game is entirely on exploding dirt, but it turns out the Steam store page doesn’t bother to explain any kind of plot either. Thus, the purity of Bore Blasters. Some facts can be divined from the earth, though: you play a dwarf, piloting a small ship akin to Robotnik’s flying hedghog killer, and are dropped off on a small, discrete, gem-bearing chunk of dirt. This you pulverise, in a downward direction, with the aim of finding a huge chest of gems at the bottom somewhere. Your drill is the machine gun on your ship, your efforts governed by about two minutes worth of depleting fuel and a hull that can take three hits total. It’s cyberpunk by Gimli.

Bore Blasters is also a roguelite by Gimli, because if you don’t find the treasure chest before you run out of fuel, or you ricochet into too many walls, or you get hit by an environmental hazard one too many times, your run is over. That’s okay, though because you keep whatever gems you managed to harvest along the way, and can use them to make your ship betterer. A better shell, more efficient fuel consumption, and higher damage, all that sort of stuff can be improved to make your runs more successful. Completing a mission successfully, meanwhile, can unlock temporary abilities that you get a chance to roll on subsequent missions, which range from passives that mean plain dirt squares drop gems, to Vampire Survivors-esque AOE weapons like cartoony bombs that pop out of you in all directions, or an axe that circles your ship as you descend.

Such boons are helpful, because the environmental factors are varied and increase in number and fuckery as you venture to harder levels. There are monsters, natch, including pink whales that inflate like puffer fish, but different biomes offer different blocks, like lava levels with blocks that shoot fireballs at you, ice levels with blocks that fire icicles on impact, mossy blocks that swiftly grow into any space available, and weird eye blocks that limit your field of vision for a few seconds if you destroy one. They’re imaginative and present different hazards for which you quickly develop different strategies.

Triggering a chain reaction explosion in Bore Blasters
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/8BitSkull

Three temporary bolt on upgrades in Bore Blasters

Shooting a bunch of guided missiles in Bore Blasters

Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/8BitSkull

Some worlds have fly nests, which burst when you shoot them and release a bug – low health annoyances, but when several nest blocks are around you, they swiftly multiply. Plus there are the goblins, who are in some manner your antagonists. On some levels they’ll turn up in their own rocket ships, or flying jetpacks, and launch spiky mines at you. On other levels they’ve planted the place with proximity mines or defensive guns, and you have to find the off switch if you want to survive.

These, along with your dwindling fuel supply, force you to keep moving, sinking down into the abyss and firing with gleeful abandon. The 2D pixelart is surprisingly evocative, as is seeing the dirt puff into pixely art before you. Bore Blasters teaches you a constant, almost instictive calculus, where you survey the screen for the bright primary colours of gemstones like a prospector panning for gold, while at the same time considering the best path down, through softer, empty dirt. There are ways to tip the scales back in your favour, too. It’s possible to find blocks containing fuel to extend your run, and you can trigger cascading events by hitting a mine or the first exploding block in a long line of them, opening the way for you with less effort. There’s something a bit Noita-y in it at times.

You also have special abilities, which are different for different dwarf pilots. I favoured the barrage of heat-seeking missles, but have a fondness for the first pilot, who energises the entire ship to be able to battering ram through anything for a few seconds. This ability bar for the special attack is charged up by shooting dirt, so destruction begets destruction in a pleasing way – just as each success on the home map screen opens up more levels around it, and shows you a tiny representation of the hazards and rewards to be found if you brave another descent. This detail in particular may actually be my favourite bit of Bore Blasters.

The world map screen in bore blasters
Lookit | Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/8BitSkull

And much like the hidden deposits in a level, Bore Blasters itself seems simple on the surface, but has a lot of interlocking little things that all just work well together. Some procedural generation, some levels with additional quests (explode x number of bomb blocks; find x number of research computers), and some suitable noises for the many explosions on screen, all add a bit more polish to proceedings. There’s even a new Daily Run mode that gives you a challenge – like ‘kill as many enemies as possible’ – and puts your efforts on a global leaderboard.

Initially I thought Bore Blasters would feel disposable, given how quick the runs are, but once you’ve levelled your engine enough they actually start to become a bit of a chore, despite inventive curve balls like goblins booby trapping a whole level with acid. Perhaps enough thought went into making this game that you don’t have to think much at all when playing it. There is actually a story, but I think I like dwarfs yelling and shooting dirt more, as long as there’s that urgency. Perhaps Bore Blasters a very well engineered stress ball for endless cartharsis. Don’t expect meaningful diggy diggy hole. This is explodey hole.

This review was based on a copy of the game provided by the developer.

By admin

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