Shoot-a-Story Desura Review

Ever wish that a vertical space ship shooter could take place on a note card with words from classic literature as the enemies? Well neither have I, but Shoot-a-Story does just that. Its a bare bones, almost Space Invaders style of arcade shooter. Instead of aliens that move left, drop then right, these words come in half sentences moving left. Once the half sentence clears the screen, it drops and enters the screen again from the right. When each word takes damage, it starts to turn a shade of red until it takes enough damage to disappear.

I’d also like to say here toward the top that the developer has fixed some of the issues that I’ll reference.

1

Each of these foes can shoot back at you, but the shooting is forgiving. You’ve got dual cannons that fire signs and symbols such as @ { > and so on. If you shoot an enemy projectile, both projectiles are destroyed. With all of the classic literature I can almost call it an educational game, since you’ve got nothing better to do than read the words as they appear.

The only problem is these passages are short and I can easily outlast them with the game’s generous health system. You can take six shots and its even difficult to get shot when you can cancel out enemy projectiles with your own. Perhaps a skip to the next story passage would be helpful to appear at the top for me to shoot.

The game is so simple that its flat out boring. While I can respect the gimmick of shooting words, its just too slow and easy to be fun, but perhaps this was meant as an educational game. Slow and easy enough for children to learn some of the most riveting passages in all of literature. Famous quotes and the passages they’ve originated from. The difficulty does ramp up slow to offer more bullets per second (bps?), but the enemies are never any faster.

Shoot-a-Story does a good job of providing a soothing, relaxing atmosphere with its music. You won’t be dirupted by any sounds of crumbling words or gun fire. Instead its just classical piano and oboe filling the background. Its a very calming game that can almost drive you to euphoria if you get into it. As you progress further the enemies will drop more projectiles at you.

Controls are simple, either your arrow keys to move and space button to fire or 360 controller support. You can only move left and right, because again the game is a simplified Space Invaders. The game even allows you to hold down the fire button to make things a lot easier. With something this simple, I’d even recommend turning off this auto fire to give it more of a challenge, but the game is about soothing you.

One of the unique things the game has going for it is you’re always in game. There is no traditional menu, you shoot at a menu item to enter it. So you’re always playing, but you can still mouse click the items too. When you enter the game, you’ll first select the mode, then the passage you’d like to shoot at. You’ve got all sorts of selections such as “Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde,” “To Kill a Mocking Bird” and even “Pride and Prejudice.” You can even select the font to use and you’ll need to use a variety.

Outside of selecting passages and fonts, there’s a challenge mode that requires you to find sixty words and shoot them in their specific fonts. While this is incentive to keep you playing to fill up the word find, I couldn’t get into it.  Each passage has a high score, so there is the ability to play only to beat the high score. However, I didn’t want to continue into 700+ points.

I did manage to find some issues, such as a safe spot on the right of the screen, because its as if the enemies need to charge their shots before they drop them. Over on the right side they just can’t charge them fast enough, but you can melt away your enemies. It also felt like I found a glitch at some point, because the enemy projectiles would cycle through all of the potential @ < { combinations without ever dropping them.

This safe spot has been fixed and enemies are now more accurate.

With everything said, I can’t recommend the game outside of small children. The word gimmick doesn’t stick very well and if it was space barges that you had to shoot, the game wouldn’t be any better. However, this is the good basis for a game, so if the developer in the future wants to use this to make a better, more dynamic shooter, I’d welcome it. Its just slow and seems like a downgrade even from the original Space Invaders.

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