Aliens have invaded! Humanity can’t stand before their superior numbers and technology. All hope is almost lost, but from desperation comes two new heroes. Made of metal, and rolling to win the war, nothing can stop these little tanks of destruction.
Lil Tanks is a side scrolling bullet hell shooter where one or two players take control of the titular tanks and face an onslaught of alien opponents. As enemies are destroyed some yield XP. Collect a certain amount of XP and the tank goes up a level, which provides it access to a wider variety of power ups. Each level completed can yield game modes, called Hardcore, or additional tanks to choose from.
Tanks come with a variety of special powers. The initial tank available, for instance, has a rotating selection of special weapons, whereas the first unlocked tank has a handy heal function. Each tank has a slightly different power which varies how the game is played.
There are three play types. Campaign takes the player through a series of levels, destroying alien forces until they face off against a boss. Endless pits the player against a never ending stream of enemies, allowing them to rack up a massive score and bonus XP. Plus, the best players of Endless go onto an online leaderboard. The last type is Boss Training, where players can practise defeating the end-of-level bosses.
Overall the game play is very straight forward. The screen continuously scrolls from left to right, and the player’s tank trundles along with it. Each tank can move about the limited play area and fire at enemies in the way. There are some tactics, such as knowing how to avoid certain attacks, and when to use the tank powers. But generally the game play doesn’t change much from level to level, or tank to tank.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There isn’t a lot of variation in the game, but each level can be completed quite quickly. Even if the player’s tank is destroyed it still retains all the XP it amassed, so no level attempt is ever really wasted. This makes Lil Tanks feel like a good time investment, even if it is repetitive.
It is also a lot of fun. The controls aren’t overly complex, and the Lil Tanks respond really well to the player’s intentions. While this is a bullet hell game, the way it has been executed makes each level feel achievable. The player may be facing a wall of missiles with regularity, but it never feels like the challenge is impossible or unfair.
The simplicity of the idea and execution means that Lil Tanks doesn’t really have any bad points. It is hardly revolutionary; players are unlikely to experience anything really original. But the game offers a refinement of the genre which sits nicely between challenging and accessible.
At the core if it, Lil Tanks is a fun shooter which chooses a few ideas and executes them really well. Fans of bullet hell shooters will enjoy the experience, though may find the game easier than others of the genre. Casual players will likely have fun with the simple execution and manageable shooter game play. The unlockable tanks and leveling system means that Lil Tanks has a lot of replayability in it.
Lil Tanks is developed and published by Lead Money Studio and is available on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux.
Reviewed On: PC
Review System: nVidiaN9600C, G1 Sniper M7 S1151, 16GB RAM
Playtime: 2 hours