I liked Lichtspeer before I even started playing it. The menu screen, if you'll believe it, is what sold me.
Here's what it looks like:
Where the exit button would normally be, Lichtspeer has a button that reads, "Go home and eat strudel." And when you press it, a god-like voice triumphantly belts out, "STRUDEL."
Lichtspeer is an arcade-y spear-throwing game set in "the ancient Germanic future." You lob your trusty (and pointy) light beams at everything from Viking penguins, to hipster ice giants, to high-diving walruses that will wreck your shit. I tried it out on a whim yesterday, and it's become my go-to timewaster. When I started playing, the LA sun was still sizzling in the sky. When I finally quit out, I realised I was sitting all alone in a pitch black room.
Mechanically, Lichtspeer is simple, but devilishly satisfying. You stand in place and arc spears at hordes of techno-Germanic goons, each of which move and attack differently. This is a game about flow, about finding that intoxicating sweet spot between aim and instinct. Holding down the mouse button, watching your spear's arc increase, nailing a speeding zombie right between the eyes — every simple motion is calibrated to feel and sound sublime. Body shots will get the job done in a pinch, but headshots have their own special sound, signalling a bloody rain of bonus points. Headshot combos are even better.
Here's five minutes of me playing one of the game's early levels:
There's a rhythm you sink into as the soundtrack pulses and you chuck spears near and far, never ceasing lest a single enemy burst through and snatch your precious entrails for its entrail collage. In the game's best moments, it's got a Zen-like quality to it. Focus. Stay in the moment. Keep your aim true. Don't let panic set in. Contrary to popular belief, Valhalla does not await. Just cold, entrail-less death.
That said, while the game mostly does a good job of introducing new enemy types to facilitate slow, deliberate skill growth, a few enemies feel cheap. As the game progresses, instakill scenarios intertwine with longer level segments. Special attacks you can unlock and upgrade mitigate that to a degree, but there's nothing more frustrating than powering through most of an area — sweating and cursing all the while — only for a last-second bullshit baddie to ruin everything.
The short version? Lichtspeer is very fun when it's not frustrating as the Norse depiction of hell. It's easily worth $US10 ($13).
Also, its in-game currency is called LSD: