Endless Hellscape: Son of Scoregasm

It’s really weird to realize just how long it’s been since I played the original Scoregasm, one of the first indie titles to hit Steam that I was praising to high heaven before the modern shooter resurgence began. It had a Darius-style progression system, except it would let you pick up from anywhere on the branching path you liked to continue onwards. Getting stuck 5 stages into a route? You can leave and come back when you have more practice elsewhere. As a bonus, every single stage had a customized challenge for when you completed it, for a bit of replay value that kept me going for quite a bit.

It also threw into stark relief how much Steam’s become an unusable mess as a storefront, because I didn’t know until December 2018 that there was a sequel, Son of Scoregasm, released at the tail end of 2017. It never recommended it to me “because you played the only prior game from the dev on the service at length” or “because you’ve been playing Dariusburst CS and other shooters a lot” or a lot of other reasons – no, I only saw it because I got it drawn completely random out of a digital hat fucking around with the store’s absolutely terrible “discovery queue” system in the sale to get some trading cards. Even then, it told me it was recommending it to me not because it thought I would like it, but “just to see if I might be interested”.

No, really.

I would have to revisit the original to be sure, but somehow, Son of Scoregasm doesn’t quite feel as… together, I guess? as the original package. Less levels, it doesn’t seem to run as smoothly (maybe it’s loading but the menus have some serious framerate issues), the challenge mode isn’t there, and the new scoring system feels finicky to me. The original game had a basic “continue the combo for more bonus”, the new one gives you a meter that will bomb anything in a radius around you and convert it into score multipliers. The issue is that at a certain point, there are enemies which I’m pretty sure you can only kill with this bomb, and so if you haven’t played that stage before to know where these are (since the goal of every stage is to survive all waves and kill all enemies), it basically means you’re occasionally going to eat shit and have to redo a stage, or play an incredibly harrowing game of keep-away with your gun pushing them back ineffectively while you try not to be cornered on some of the stranger shaped levels.

Here’s a cross-section of some of the stages, and their shapes or perma-hazards. Others include walls made of fire, rotating irregular shaped lasers like you’re inside one of the vectors from Asteroids. or more.

I just don’t feel like it’s as thrilling as it once was, is the thing. There are no powerups. There MIGHT be a second ship, based on one achievement, but I have no idea how to unlock it after clearing 2.5 branches out of 7. More than a few stages are too damn annoying to want to revisit for the score medals, of which I only discovered by accident since the tutorial’s not amazing. I kept leaving stages with a score multiplier of 0, since I didn’t realize the bomb was a mechanic for a while (the default controls map it to a trigger on my controller). Until you get to the final stage on a branch, where bosses await, you’re just sitting around fighting mooks and occasionally the layout, and it’s all the same ship, and it’s so very, very samey.

But it was fast, and it was cheap, and while I found myself disappointed, I also can’t blame a one-dude studio for putting out something like this which he hustled onto multiple platforms, including the PS Vita, in 2017. I might not recommend it to all my friends this time, but it’ll make sure I keep an eye out for anything new he does in future.

Remaining clears before hiatus ends: 35/36

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