£5.94; Mac, Windows, Linux; Terri Vellmann

If there is a game for which the phrase “do not adjust your set” was most apt, then Heavy Bullets is it. You don't have to look hard to have a stab at how this first person shooter is looking to distinguish itself from the slew of realistic blast-em-ups which constantly clog up the charts. It stares you vividly in the face, its neon colours flashing around the screen as you move through the mazey corridors on psychedelic trips to carry out what appears to be a mundane resetting of a security mainframe but is nonetheless strewn with danger.

And yet the graphics, as bold as they are, are only part of the charm of this roguelike, dungeon crawler. As much as you'd like to purely use your lightning fast reactions to blast away the enemy, you are hamstrung by limited ammo which, initially, gives you just six bullets, each of which you need to get back once you fire them. That's not an easy task when creepy creatures are making their way towards you and you're trying to keep yourself orientated, but it does make you think more strategically. There is, you surmise, no point in firing at a foe that is some distance away. Better to see them up close so you can be sure the bullet doesn't go too far astray.

It means you tread more carefully than you otherwise would. You soon learn that charging around does you no good at all, lest you see the words “You died” writ large in pink once again. For this reason alone, it is a triumph for independent developer Terri Vellmann and why most gamers would have no problems buying the game and investing time with it. A genre like this needs freshening up every now and again, even if those who adore Call of Duty and Battlefield may laugh at the absurd, almost primitive, visual nature of it all. Caution is good.

It flies in the face of expectation. There is no narrative to speak of and neither is there much in the way of reward for completing each stage: finish one, start another. You do get some in-game cash which can be used to enhance the play but there is an overall sense of single-mindedness, a feeling that the core mechanics can stand up for themselves. To an extent they can, even though does make for game that becomes overfamiliar far too soon. There's only so much colour the eyes can take and, as procedurally generated as each level is, the stages start to become one in your mind, leaving you with few standout memories when you finish playing.

And yet, and yet... For those whose gaming pedigree stretches back to the 1980s, it is gloriously retro. It's difficult, it's challenging, it's lacking in true variety and it's quite single-minded. It's not easy to aim and you need to have fast reflexes when it counts. When you die – and it's not a question of 'if' most of the time – you can lose everything you have gained and you start again. But that's what makes it the fun game it is. There is too much hand-holding in many games, too few consequences for failure. Heavy Bullets goes back to basics but inserts a killer angle. It makes Heavy Bullets one of the highlights of the gaming year so far and it deserves to be given a shot for that reason.

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