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Published 07.07.2021 00:00
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Salvagette review

Salvagette is a game where you play as a spaceship that must ram into all kinds of enemies trying to shoot you down. In appearance, it looks a heck of a lot like a bullet hell game, but the twist of this game is that it's turn-based. This genre-bending roguelike lets you stop and plot out how you want to weave through enemy projectiles in a way that's pretty satisfying, especially considering Salvagette is completely free.

When I move you move

In Salvagette, you pilot a ship in a one-screen environment covered in evenly-spaced "nodes" your ship can move between. So long as you aren't against a wall, all you need to do is swipe a finger to move in any four cardinal directions. When your ship moves, though, so does everything else in the arena. This means, enemies might be able to charge attacks, move, or their projectiles might advance toward you.

Salvagette's challenge escalates in waves. So your arena gets replenished with enemies only after you've rammed through everything from the wave prior. On every wave refresh, you also earn money which you can use in an in-game shop that appears every once in a while. This store can grant permanent upgrades like shields or increased speed or one-time purchases like a bomb that clears the board or a heart that restores health you may have lost.

Projectile panic

At the beginning of any run in Salvagette, the challenge seems trivial. With just two or three enemies shooting single projectiles every few moves, it's quite easy to plot out a path to carve through them. Every new wave introduces different, more, and/or harder enemies, to the point that your screen fills with enemies and projectiles. It's at these moments where Salvagette really shines. It would be impractical for a real-time bullet hell game to fill with the kinds of stuff this game does, but the fact that you can plot out movements allows for really complicated and satisfying maneuvering.

If you end up getting too overwhelmed and die, Salvagette totals a score for you, reveals which ending you unlocked and allows you to try again. Depending on how you played, you might also unlock a new song to play against your next run. Before hopping into your next play session, you can also watch a sped up replay of your action. I wish the replay was a little smoother in playback to truly look like a traditional bullet hell game, but it's still a neat feature nonetheless.

Free flyin'

The only real pain point of Salvagette is when you end up dying deep in a run. There are a few unlocks you might get between runs in terms of endings or songs, but there is nothing to further modify future runs or empower you to reach late stages of the game again faster. This is the way of many roguelikes, though, so it sort of comes with the territory. I just wish I could skip the first few waves sometimes regardless.

This is a relatively small thing to complain about though, as otherwise Salvagette is a neat free game that doesn't include any in-app purchases, ads, or anything else. It's just a game you can grab and play without any kind of distraction or monetary ask, which is really refreshing.

The bottom line

Salvagette is a thrilling and stressful arcade game that moves at your own pace. There are a few missing bells and whistles, but you get what you pay for here, and the asking price is unbeatable. Go ahead and pick it up to see for yourself.

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