Whisker Squadron: Survivor is a neon Star Fox roguelite that you can play on PC right now

Whisker Squadron gif
(Image credit: Flippfly)

The creators of the excellent, minimalist Race the Sun have once again tasked us with pushing a high-speed ship to its limits, this time in the Star Fox-inspired Whisker Squadron: Survivor. Instead of a race against time, it's a shooter, with neon corridors filled with obstacles and laser-spitting enemies. It's a good time, and you can take it for a spin now by downloading the Steam Next Fest demo. 

Whisker Squadron: Survivor is a roguelite deal, where you select a feline pilot, ship, weapons and perks, and then head into a series of increasingly deadly corridors, using scrap claimed from fallen foes to level up through a series of randomised upgrades. If you fail, you have to start over, but with a leg up thanks to the points you earned on the previous run, which let you purchase new ships and perks as well as unlocking different tabby pilots. 

It's straightforward and streamlined, but this is really an appetiser for a beefier game, simply called Whisker Squadron. It's also a roguelite shooter, but as well as the deadly corridors seen in Survivor, there are also free-roaming exploration zones, and opportunities to hunt down "loot and opportunities" while you're dodging lasers and blasting bosses. It doesn't have a demo just yet, but both games are expected to launch later this year. 

When I picked up a Mini SNES a few years back, I rekindled my love of Star Fox, and while Whisker Squadron: Survivor's demo doesn't quite boast the same amount of personality and, with its roguelite structure, is doing its own thing, the vibes are still comparable, and boosting my way down its corridors has been a nice way to spend a morning. 

Just one piece of advice: You'll be tempted to use a controller, but stick with the mouse and keyboard. The way the reticle snaps back to the centre made the shooting a bit awkward when I used my Xbox One pad, but that doesn't happen when you're using the mouse to aim. 

It's shaping up to be another excellent Next Fest, and we've already been having a great time with Shadows of Doubt, the procedural detective sandbox; but it looks like the game everyone's interested in is Dark and Darker, an FPS dungeon romp I'd never heard of until yesterday. The peak concurrent player count yesterday was over 100,000, which is wild. Next Fest runs until Monday, so you've still got plenty of time to sift through the huge selection of demos

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.