I've now played exactly one bullet hell FPS, and I'm ready for this to be the next big genre

Luna Abyss bullet hell FPS
(Image credit: Bonsai Collective)

Luna Abyss violates the #1 sacred tenet of PC FPS design the second it gives you a gun: it's a first-person shooter, but it doesn't care about aiming.

The left mouse button fires a beam of red energy out of your starter gun, but the right mouse button is far more powerful. It locks onto an enemy, guaranteeing perfect accuracy with every shot. It's impossible to miss unless you dodge behind an obstacle while you circle-strafe around Luna Abyss's tight combat arenas. It sounds like it would make the game trivially easy and instantly dull, but Luna Abyss hands you the power to land every shot so that you can instead focus on dodging the waves of deadly bullet orbs hurtling your way in classic, familiar patterns.

This first person take on bullet hell works so well I'm baffled we haven't seen a dozen games before Luna Abyss just like it. 

For the last couple years Vampire Survivors clones have been the big indie craze, and I keep hoping the nickname "bullet heaven" will take root for that style of walking-and-shooting survivor game. It may not be a particularly intuitive label for the genre, but I like it as the flip side of the classic Japanese scrolling shooter "bullet hell," where you're dodging screenfulls of bullets instead of firing them. Now that we're pretty well saturated with bullet heavens, I want to see the bullet hell get some love again. New traditional-style 2D bullet hell shmups are hard to come by, but seemingly rarer still are games that take that core idea of dodging waves of overwhelming-yet-predictable bullets and adapt it to 3D.

Returnal and Nier Automata nailed it, but those are both third person games. By comparison there's an immediacy in the way Luna Abyss puts those bullets right in your face, closing off your peripheral vision. In a slower, weightier game that claustrophobia in the face of constant fire would be frustrating, but Luna Abyss feels great in the hands. It's snappy like nu-Doom, but instead of rushing in for a glory kill you're locking onto enemies and casually obliterating them while your legs dance you out of danger.

Early in the demo I played, which starts near the beginning of the game, I got my hands on the second weapon—a booming laser shotgun. It added a puzzley layer to combat, with certain shielded enemies requiring a shotgun blast to open them up to more damage. It's another way Luna Abyss reminds me of Doom Eternal, though it's far easier to juggle weapons in combat when you don't also have to worry about accurately landing your shots. There's great potential in this design, though, if by the end of Luna Abyss you're using half your brain to PEMDAS your way through enemy formations by swapping between multiple weapons and using the other half to dodge their overlapping bullet patterns.

There's such an arcade purity to the FPS bullet hell that I'm disappointed Luna Abyss's developers didn't include a scoring system for each combat encounter. It seems to be a story-heavy game, with lots of wandering hallways and listening to voiceover in between battle arenas. Likely too much—Devil May Cry should be the template here, not Metroid Prime. I want to see a multiplier go up for each enemy I kill with the perfect number of shots, each bullet pattern I skate through without taking a hit, each second I shave off the par time for clearing a room.

Luna Abyss may not end up quite the lean, arcadey bullet hell game I want it to be, but it's proof enough that a shooter can be gripping even when pulling the trigger is your least thrilling action. It's out sometime this year, and hopefully won't be the only one of its kind for long.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).