(Ed Note: At time of writing, BULLET ♥︎ is currently live on Kickstarter. The version reviewed is an excellent implementation on Table Top Simulator. You can play that here. In addition, I ended up backing the game at the premium level, which is like 60 bucks, and the Kickstarter has been funded. As you might guess, I like the game, so if you’re coming in here expecting a totally non-biased opinion, you’re not gonna get it. I will include a few of my friends’ criticisms of the game, to try to provide a slightly more balanced view, but a neutral post this is not.)
I like Bullet♥︎. For anyone wondering, yes, the heart is apparently part of the name. No, I don’t know why either. Lets just talk about the game shall we?
Bullet♥︎ as a game is intended to be modeled after shmup style games like Touhou or Jamestown. While it does this at least aesthetically, I’d say the actual gameplay sometimes ends up feeling closer to a fighter, but I’ll talk about that in a bit.
The game is played in 3 minute rounds. Each player has a board representing their character, with a grid of circles on it. At the start of a round, you have a bag full of incoming bullets with numbers and colors on them. Your goal is to not let any of these incoming bullets hit you by reaching the bottom of the grid.
While you have basically no ability to control the placement of individual bullets, you do have the ability to clear them off your board using patterns, and to move them around using actions. This is the meat of the game: trying to set up efficient patterns, and make decisions all while on a fairly hard time limit.
This of course brings up one of the first complexities with Bullet♥︎. The game requires players who are used to playing games. It can be very easy to mess up and misplace, and the fact that everyone is playing at once means that pausing to ask questions about how something works, or to consult the rulebook can’t really happen. This makes it easy to misplay. (It also makes it easy to cheat, but let’s be honest, if you’re playing board games with cheaters, you need new friends anyway.)
In addition, because of this simultaneous play, Bullet♥︎ doesn’t have a large amount of inherent player interaction, especially in multiplayer games. While we never tried out the boss rush mode, Bullet♥︎ is mostly categorized by silence and quiet. This may or may not sit well with your play group.
If this all sounds like I’m being harsh on Bullet♥︎, the thing is that despite this, I’ve convinced multiple people to play it with me. I’ve played the solo mode, something I have never done before for a board game, mostly because I wanted to get better. There are very few board games I want to be good at. I like winning, but I almost never try to get better at them. Bullet♥︎ is a game I want to be good at.
I called the game a fighter up above, and that “I want to be better” is why. There’s another reason, and it’s playing the game 1v1. In 1v1, Bullet stops being purely a chaotic frenzy, and instead turns into a slightly more balanced duel. I found myself trying to predict what sort of bullets would mess with my opponent, saving patterns and bullets to set up bigger attacking rounds, and generally playing the game more like a fighter than a puzzle game.
Overall, I really enjoy the game. It won’t be a match for everyone. The game doesn’t have a huge amount of interaction between players in a way that feels massively meaningful, and the rules can feel intimidating at first.
But Bullet♥︎ is fun, and really, that’s what matters to me.