We all like to claim games are all about gameplay and that visuals don’t matter a jot. But that’s a massive fib. Glitchskier is a case in point.
It’s a fairly conventional vertically scrolling shooter, wedged somewhere between arcade classic Xevious and modern-day bullet-hell. But Glitchskier exists in its own little aesthetic and conceptual world – one that elevates what might have been a routine (if playable) title into something far more exciting.
Firing up Glitchskier is a surreal experience. A logo flickers into life, and you hear keys clattering and ancient PC beeps, before being faced with a desktop seemingly being beamed to your tablet or phone from 1982.
A weird squelchy soundtrack then plays, transforming Glitchskier into something almost filmic, somewhat bringing to mind Her Story. And at this point you haven’t even started playing yet.
Fiddle around with the desktop icons in front of you, and Glitchskier proper reveals itself. A little craft is hemmed into a section of a world full of broken code and seemingly furious chunky characters intent on your destruction, all backed by meaty sound effects and a head-bobbing electronic soundtrack.
You dodge and weave, firing back at your aggressors whenever you can. Weapon pick-ups arm your craft with everything from massive laser beams to spinning wheels of bullet doom.
The pick-ups add strategy, too – your craft can hold only a limited number, so you must pick and choose carefully. And they also act as shields, taking a hit when you mess up – at which point the game slows down, potentially helping you escape a spot of bother.
You might for a while then wonder if things are getting a bit too easy. Typically, Glitchskier then flings a boss or manic section of craziness your way, rewarding any complacency by abruptly ending your go in a hail of bullety death.
That said, you will finish the game fairly rapidly if you’ve an iota of shooty skills in your pointing digit. Glitchskier is only four levels long, as it turns out. But even this brevity doesn’t do the game a disservice. The main mission becomes a high-score chaser, challenging you with figuring out how to up your score by blowing up more things next time round.
And those desktop icons? Well, they then warrant further exploration. Fiddle around in one folder and you’ll find alternate colour schemes to mess around with – assuming you grabbed relevant pick-ups during play. And next to the main .exe file will lurk an endless mode – and that one takes no prisoners.