Tilt the world to steer through bullet hell in Khamsin, a shooter where you don’t directly control the protagonist.
Khamsin, from Borderline Games (Slime Garden), was an entry into the recent Game Maker’s Toolkit Jam 2018. A jam which had a theme of ‘games within a genre, but lacking a core mechanic’. The example of Snake Pass — a platformer in which you cannot jump — was provided.
Khamsin‘s game brief, then, was to be a bullet hell without the ability to control the protagonist.
Slipping, sliding, and narrowly avoiding falling off the edges of the cut-away maps is how you’ll spend most of your time. The tilting of the world doesn’t feel as precise as it could, but with a little bit of persistence, you’ll learn to careen and guide the main character through bullet-spewing towers and around mines. There are explosives and shield pick-ups along the way which will help you out too. And, you’ll do all of this just within the nick of time as well.
Perhaps my favourite part of this all, however, is that as all of this is going on you leave a trail in the thick sand; pushing displaced matter aside as the ball rolls. It’s superfluous, but also satisfying.
While you lack a health bar, so can only take one hit, each of the levels are short and the learning curve isn’t particularly steep. When it comes down to it, you just need to get the ball in the hole. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard though, there’s a lot of patience required for later levels, as well as ideal routes which are not initially obvious.
Khamsin‘s small, precise levels might not lend themselves well to the bullet-hell genre’s glorious, overflowing screens. However, the fast restart time, bite-sized challenges, and impressive sand displacement make up for that in droves. That and the exceptional boss battle at the end.
Khamsin is currently completely free to download through Itch.io.