There are two words that rarely get tied together in the same sentence when related to gaming. Those two words are “couch” and “co-op”. In a time long past, it was simply known as “two-player mode”. With the advent of the internet and online gaming, we were no longer relegated to huddling around a small screen in the dark like some kind of primitive cave men. Enter Mad Capacity studios, a developer looking to blast a photon bomb sized hole into the notion that couch co-op games are dead with their title Astervoid 2000.
Astervoid 2000 takes inspiration from the arcade classic Asteroids, but in this indie arcade title, it’s not the asteroids you need to worry about as you pilot one of a handful of ships to choose from. The real threat are the other ships in your slice of space that are gunning to blow you into another dimension. And if that happens? Well, it’s game over man. Game over.
Starting the game, you can choose from the survival single-player mode, or, if you actually have friends, you can play the versus mode. Yeah, it’s not so much co-op as it is shooting pew pew lasers at each other, but let’s not argue the semantics. Once you’ve done that, you choose a ship, a color, and away you go! In a game that focuses on 2D-space combat, it better run like silk, and Astervoid 2000 does not disappoint. Every move is smooth, aiming is tight, and other ship’s and obstacle’s movements are translated visually in a meaningful way. It’s not too difficult to keep up with the frantic action that appears on screen.
Piloting your chosen vessel you can move in 360 degrees, shoot in 360 degrees, do a sort of dodge boost, and charge your weapon for a more powerful shot. It might sound simple, but with that combination of moves it makes for a game about skill and hand-eye coordination. There are no special moves, no upgrading your ship, and nothing to unlock. You simply rely on your skills to get you through. Since I have no one to play with, I tried my luck against the AI. It’s fun for a few rounds, but got old quickly.
During all the spacey goodness you might not have much time to check out the visuals on display in the game, but the presentation and graphics are great, recalling the 16-bit era of gaming. The ship designs are interesting to look at, with some classic looking ships and others that are a bit more fantastical, and as far as I could tell they all perform the same. The sound is also on par, especially the music, provided by LREVG. There is a soundtrack edition of the game available on Steam, and if this time of music is in your wheelhouse then it might be worth it to pay the extra to get said soundtrack.
But for how good Astervoid 2000 looks and sounds, I can’t help but feel like there was a missed opportunity to bring online multiplayer into the game. If you don’t have a group of people with which to play the game, then you are stuck playing against the AI, and that is rarely fun in any game. As much as I can appreciate the couch co-op mode in games that feature it, the mode serves little purpose to me 98% of the time.
Astervoid 2000 is a finely crafted game that has quite a bit of quality work put into it. It’s just a shame that it’s a game that is limited by what it has on offer. Without an online multiplayer aspect, it’s difficult for me to recommend the game without the caveat that it’s local only. I would like to see this game released on a console, where couch co-op is more typical, but I don’t know if that is in the works. Finally, at $9.99 on Steam, I think that might be stretching the limits on what I would pay for Astervoid 2000, it just feels more like a $4.99 game. In the end, this is a quality game, but without much content or replayability, that might make this game a derelict ship, floating alone in the vast blackness of space.
Astervoid 2000 is available now on Steam. Astervoid 2000 was reviewed using a Steam code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy on our disclaimer page here.