When I first started playing through the BIT.TRIP games, I was pretty certain that BIT.TRIP VOID would be the least interesting one. To the surprise of no-one, I was wrong in judging a BIT.TRIP book by its cover yet again and came away from VOID with it placing as one of the best in the series.
One element of VOID that I think is actually pretty interesting is its story. The themes are a lot more obvious, with it being about Commander Video’s ego and arrogance taking over him, but I think it’s really well represented by gameplay in a way that I don’t think the other games quite achieve.
For example, CORE doesn’t really have anything tying together the gameplay and narrative ideas. You shoot stuff to a beat and the story isn’t super representative of that, but in VOID it’s all about an ego growing out of control and in gameplay you literally have to control a sphere as it grows far too big and have to handle risk versus reward. It’s a really cool concept that elevates the whole game.
Out of all of the BIT.TRIP games, I’d say that VOID is probably the easiest to grasp and probably the most simplistic. True, BEAT is essentially just Pong, but it also messes with that concept a lot and gets really hard towards the end. With VOID, you play as a black circle and have to collect any black beats you find whilst avoiding the white ones.
The big gameplay hook that really makes VOID interesting is the control over your void sphere. Not only can you move it around as much as you want, but you also need to be controlling how big it gets. Collect too many beats and it’ll fill up the screen and be more likely to hit white blocks. The way to control it is to push the A button and shrink it back down to size, but this also plays into the music as it has a beat of its own. VOID is essentially like a music bullet-hell, and I mean that in a good way.
Having to press the A button to the beat really feels like it adds another layer to VOID that I hadn’t realised was there before playing it. The way that it plays into the music is also really great, and made me take a lot more notice of the songs in general. That is to say that I think that VOID has the best music out of the BIT.TRIP games, and the way it interacts with the gameplay feels really well done.
Describing VOID as simple sounds like a bad thing, but it does elaborate on the concept quite a bit by the end and messes with the player in fun little ways. It’s never easy but I’d say it’s a bit more forgiving than the rest of the games. With VOID, you actually have more than one chance to get a beat due to the amount of control you have over your void sphere, so you’re rarely in the Nether.
One thing that I think could have been improved on a little with VOID is how it delivers information to the player through visuals. It’s very hard to tell how close you are to going up or down in score, and you can sometimes fall into the nether without ever realising you’re close to it. It’s all about recognising the background colour, but I feel like an option to show a small bar would be appreciated.
I enjoyed VOID so much that I even played around a bit with the extra challenges that it offers. A lot of the BIT.TRIP games offer challenges outside of the main levels as extra content but I rarely felt like doing them, until VOID. Playing through a few here showed me a much harder version of the game that was a little bit off putting, but it’s nice that there’s extra content for those who want it.
BIT.TRIP VOID stands as one of the best games in the saga for me, due to how it melds its story, gameplay and music in really interesting ways without making things too complicated or difficult. It’s fantastic as a part of the series, and as something entirely on its own and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a fun challenge. It also has a Pac-Man-esque boss battle and that’s just awesome.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by QubicGames