Bullet hell enthusiasts, rejoice! Fans of Undertale will find the overtones of The Void Rains Upon Her Heart familiar, from art style to content, and even to the nods sprinkled throughout the soundtrack. The Void Rains Upon Her Heart is a horizontal bullet hell shooter that pits the player up against ten boss fights in a row. It’s a no nonsense, get-me-into-the-action-now style shoot-em-up. After each fight, you are awarded various “gifts” to assist you in future battles. And, in classic arcade fashion, your health does not replenish after each battle. Once you lose, you must go back to the beginning to face your foes again (perhaps a bit wiser for the wear).
The Void Rains Upon Her Heart is all about gameplay. The story is ultimately secondary to the action. You begin your (Under) tale as a young, naked, alien girl, referred to as a Zaraden (the nudity isn’t overtly sexualized, but it does seem a bit unnecessary in the scope of the game). Pale-blue narrative text appears explaining that you have been trapped in a cave, unloved and filled with a creeping sense of self-loathing. This inner hatred is depicted by a quivering red text that regularly berates you, in contrast with the indifferent narrative text.
One day you are lured from the safety of your cave to face the monsters lurking outside. Rather than run, you decide to confront them, and even attempt to turn them… with love.
The Void Rains Upon Her Heart wastes no time. You are hurled right into battle mode, where your alien body is now represented by a frail red heart that fires smaller hearts to the right of the screen (there is a perk that enables you to shoot behind you as well). You cannot be harmed unless a monster’s attack touches the core of your heart – or, the “heart of your heart,” to your character’s delightful realization.
The hearts that you fire are meant to be “love bullets” that inevitably win over the monsters. You have a few special moves as well, including a love blast – a powerful boost to your normal attack. Focus – which slows down your movement so you can weave between attacks. And a panic mode – which offers the player brief invincibility while doling out damage to your foes. Monsters get stronger as you progress and eventually evolve into stronger versions of their former selves (for instance, this eye-ball monster you faced in level one now shoots fireballs at you instead of lurching its own body at you).
The charm of this game comes from the “Choose your own adventure” style playthrough. Prefer a lower level battle? Pick a level four monster instead of level six. Is your priority to get a health packet after your match-up? Find the monster that will gift you with health. The tempo of the battles is really up to you. But, with higher risk comes higher reward. A low-level monster will often gift you with lower level abilities, whereas high-level monsters will provide heartier perks.
The monsters in The Void Rains Upon Her Heart are varied enough that they don’t become repetitive. Even the evolved monsters find ways to refurbish their old move set to become unpredictable and fresh. The final boss, the titular Void, compounds all attacks from previous monsters, resulting in an epic maximum energy battle, complete with a slow-building rock tune that draws comparisons to “Megalovania” from Undertale.
Bottom line, I found this to be an enjoyable little gem. Story aside, the gameplay was fun and challenging, even downright difficult, when I asked for it. The “Choose your own adventure” gameplay style creates a neat sort of infinite replayability. You don’t get the same path twice.
Don’t go in expecting Undertale, but if you are a fan of Toby Fox’s masterpiece, you may find yourself smiling slightly at both the subtle and not-so-subtle allusions strewn throughout The Void Rains Upon Her Heart.
This title is currently available on Steam for €7.99 – purchase here!