Illuminascii Is A First-Person Shooter Made Of Text

Illuminascii Is A First-Person Shooter Made Of Text

Illuminascii definitely doesn't look like other first-person shooters.

Let's start with a GIF. Look at me kicking down that door! Isn't that cool?

Illuminascii Is A First-Person Shooter Made Of Text

I wish more of Illuminascii felt that good. I've been playing the new Steam roguelike FPS for about an hour, and I really wish it was doing more for me. I mean, it's a shooter that's largely made of letters and words. I'm into it. At one point I kicked a trashcan over, and an ASCII art kitty cat scampered out. What a fun thing! What a cool detail. Also the roguelike elements are strong in this one: random levels and enemies, perma death, XP and stats, and even a hunger system are present and accounted for. It's a surprisingly atmospheric mash-up of modern roguelike-likes and the genre's ASCII roots.

And, again, door kicking. Charging at a door, kicking it down, and blasting whatever's on the other side. It feels awesome. I can't emphasise that enough.

As a bigtime liker of roguelike-likes, I thought I had a new addiction on my hands. Problem: my hands don't love it. Movement feels slow and janky, and with enemies that are often positioned to take you by surprise, I'm irritated by my inability to strafe effectively — or even comfortably. Shooting feels equally awkward, alternating between imprecise and unsatisfying (pistol) and too precise for certain weapon types (shotgun).

Also the level design is kind of a mess, the sort of randomization that makes you wish there was a little more method in the madness. So far, I've wandered around aimlessly, searching through drawers and other objects for "clues" — floppy discs and things of the like. Once I collect enough, the level exit opens up and I can move on.

Illuminascii Is A First-Person Shooter Made Of Text

Some of it feels arbitrary, though. In one level I couldn't find the last clue, and I ended up having to slip into a crevice between a wall and the side of a building that was practically invisible to the naked eye. In that crevice fit for a malnourished rodent or Mr Fantastic if he's having a particularly two dimensional sort of day? A door. No reasonable human would put a door there, and thus, no reasonable human would look for one there either. Fortunately, I am only occasionally given to flights of reason.

Portions of Illuminascii have been really fun for me, but as a complete package, it has some serious cracks in its foundation. I'm gonna stick with it for a bit longer, at least, but I won't lie: I'm a little bummed. It's no fun getting excited about a game, only to play it and go, "...oh" and then ":\" Here's hoping it gets better.


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