STAFF REVIEW of Bite the Bullet (Xbox One)

Friday, September 18, 2020.
by Adam Dileva

Bite the Bullet Box art Sometimes adding a small twist on familiar gameplay makes for an interesting and unique game, as is the case with Bite The Bullet. Growing up with the classic NES, I was raised on side scrolling run and gun side-scrollers, with the most famous of all being Contra. As years passed, others came along, with the other most notable series being Metal Slug. Developer Mega Cat Studios clearly had a love for the genre when developing Bite The Bullet, but came up with an interesting twist where you can also eat everything you see including your enemies and their bullets, turning the game into a run and gun and eat.

The silly premise is accompanied by an equally over the top story as well. Taking place in the far future on a dystopian world, the world as we know it today is long gone. There was a severe food shortage, so the natural solution to such a problem is to invent and create implants for humans that allow them to eat anything inorganic to sustain themselves. Of course this had undesired effects, resulting in mutations and these humans titled “ghouls”, being used as soldiers to eat and recycle any waste, or being, in their path. These ghouls took over Earth, forcing the rest of humanity to flee to other planets to inhabit. This is where mercenaries Chewie and Chewella come in. Against your will, you’ll choose either (or local co-op if you have a partner) hero and be sent back to Earth to eat these so-called “ghouls” so that the CEO of DarwinCorp can learn more about them. I told you it was silly.

With a handful of areas to explore and consume, each of which have three to five or so stages within, you’ll simply try to get from point A to point B, but there’s going to be a lot of enemies blocking your path, so it’s a good thing you can eat essentially any enemy or bullet that is thrown your way. Powered by Bawls, yes, the energy drink of yesteryear, Earth isn’t quite like you remember it, swarming in robots, zombies and near endless other enemies that will do everything they can to stop you.

Much like Metal Slug and Contra, you’ll be side-scrolling in this unique run and gun and eat adventure. You’ll chow down on food, enemies, bullets and nearly everything else in your path. You’ll be constantly shooting your weapons as you try to deplete their health low enough so that they can be eaten. While you don’t need to eat everyone and everything you see, you’ll want to as it’s also how you’re going to upgrade your skills, abilities, weapons and even transform into a near impenetrable Zombro to smash faces. While I’m still remembering I have access to a shield a few hours in, you can also use this to protect yourself when bullets are flying everywhere.

Moving with the Left Stick, you’ll also be able to aim in any direction and fire as well, though it can be quite difficult to get the exact aim and angle you want in the thick of battle. You’ll also have access to an air dash to quickly get you out of danger or to stun and damage enemies in your path. Each weapon also has their own style and uses, like the A-salt-rifle that is your default gun with infinite ammo, but you’ll pick up plenty of other food-pun weapons as well, like a rocket launcher with Meat-Seeking Missiles, most with a secondary fire as well. You’ll also find crafting stations at certain points of levels, allowing you to create and modify your favorites, for a price though. This adds another layer of personalization and I eventually rolled some great damage and mods on my rifle that I used until the end.

Obviously the main catch and gimmick of Bite The Bullet is your insatiable appetite and ability to eat enemies and bullets. This has many uses, as it’ll be the primary way you heal yourself but also gain proteins and fats, both of which have different uses. When I say you can eat nearly anything, I mean it. Took down an annoying flying robot that was firing at you? Not a problem. Slaughtered a ton of enemies in your path and need to refill your health? Looks like a buffet was just served. My only complaint with this mechanic is that it takes a moment for you to eat anything, so the constant forward flow you’re supposed to experience in games like this almost always has a constant stop-and-go to it.

Not everything is good for you to eat though. While yes, you CAN eat anything, should you though? Every food drop and enemy has their own nutritional information, and if you tend to eat more protein based food, you’ll start to get jacked and ripped, putting Rambo and any MMA fighter’s body to shame. The same goes for fast food and fat based edibles, as eating primarily these will make you balloon in size, becoming quite slow but more defensive as well. It’s an interesting mechanic to see your body size and type adapt to what you eat, but the main problem is that not only is the text so small and difficult to read even on a large TV, doing so in the heat of battle is almost pointless, especially when you really need to heal. It's not like you're going to calorie count when you're low on health.

Each world has secondary objectives for you to complete, and if you’re able to fulfil these and beat them quite quickly, you’ll earn yourself a badass looking bandana to wear, not only for aesthetic purposes, but will give you an awesome stat or ability bonus as well. These objectives are quite challenging to complete, so you’ll have to become quite proficient at running, gunning and eating, especially if you want to try and beat the levels in under ten minutes.

The highlight of the combat though had to be the crazy and massive boss fights. These monstrosities at the end of each world are quite challenging and have a great amount of detail within their design, but once you learn the attack patterns after a few tries, there’s not usually much to the fights other than shooting through their numerous health bars. Of course you’ll be rewarded with a ton of food for destroying them, so I hope you’re hungry.

Unexpectedly, there’s quite a massive skill tree that you’ll get to spend points in. I was simply expecting a simple run and gunner, but there’s a bit more RPG depth within that I didn’t fully expect. There are four main classes you can choose from, each with their own branching tree, perks and abilities. Choose from Herbivore, Carnivore, Omnivore or Robovore (yes, you can eat robots). The skill tree is deceptively large and has a lot of nodes for you to purchase between levels, though for how large the tree itself is, even a slight touch of the stick makes the screen fly in that direction for some odd reason.

I of course opted for the class that can eat anything and everything, but each plays slightly differently, giving you different perks and abilities based on what you can or shouldn’t eat. This will determine your playstyle slightly as well, as you’ll have to be conscious of what you’re eating, which is why I opted to eat everything, so I didn’t have to stop and read every enemy's nutritional information before gobbling down. While most of the nodes are simple stat increases or lowers the amount of calories you gain or lose, there’s a lot of options for you to try out each class.

Sticking with the retro theme of classic Metal Slug, visually it looks as if it came from the same era of gaming with great pixel aesthetics and modern lighting. Each enemy type looks distinct and the pixel work is top notch, as is the animations for the main characters and bosses. While I enjoyed the metal based soundtrack, the constant stop-and-go of the gameplay didn’t always feel as it was syncing up the flow.

Bite The Bullet doesn’t take itself seriously, even for a second. The writing and puns within are written well and quite funny if you take the time to read everything. The eating mechanic is an interesting take on the classic run and gun gameplay, and while it works and is completely unique and full of humor, I kept having to stop the flow of moving forward to eat everything I could. For classic Contra and Metal Slug fans, or someone that has always wanted to eat flying robots and bullets, you’ll find an entertaining few hours on your hands that’s satisfying like some fast food. You are what you eat; literally.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 6.5 / 10


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