EARLY ACCESS REVIEW: ‘Deflector’ Is an Early Access Game With Lots of Potential (PC)

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deflector - but why tho

Deflector is described as a high-octane bullet hell roguelite developed by Arrowfirst and published by Super. Arrowfirst is a Spanish studio based out of Barcelona, and Deflector is their first game as a studio. The game launches on Steam in Early Access on January 27th, 2022, and I was able to take a peek at what’s coming in this first release.

Deflector is set in a microscopic world where the player aims to defeat viruses while evolving the DNA of their character. The game is described as non-linear, which gives plenty of freedom to the player as they maneuver between levels. From what I’ve played so far, there doesn’t seem to be much to write home about in terms of story, but being so early on in the Early Access process, it’s likely that we’ll see more over time. Still, the locations and premise are interesting enough, and the gameplay amplifies them.

The core of Deflector boils down to Arrowfirst’s innovative twist on the roguelite genre. I am almost always skeptical when any developer claims to be doing anything that shakes up the status quo, so I was pleasantly surprised when Deflector actually felt different. The main standout feature is the deflect mechanic, hence the name Deflector. It adds an extra layer to a bullet hell game when you have the option to do more than just dodge the incoming shots. There are also plenty of upgrades available that expand the ability, with seemingly countless new ways to try it out. There is a bit of a learning curve with the timing, but it’s quite fun once you get a handle on it.

The path you choose through the levels is completely up to the player. You move to new locations based on which upgrades you select, although these choices didn’t feel too meaningful. The upgrades obviously matter quite a bit, but in terms of the location of the actual gameplay, I wasn’t really clear on why or how it was important. That could be chalked up to Early Access, or it could be something that they don’t plan on fleshing out much. It doesn’t really matter, since the main focus of the game is the bullet-hell gameplay and the neat deflector mechanic, but it would still be nice to see some more meaning behind what the player is doing and where they are doing it.

The other thing I really enjoyed about Deflector was the aesthetic of the entire game. Visually, Deflector is absolutely stunning. It started to invoke similar feelings that Hades did when I first played that, which is quite high praise. It did feel like the locations were starting to look a little stale in terms of lack of variety, but I chalk that up to the early status of development and am excited to see what gets introduced later on. The music of Deflector is also absolutely top-notch. It really helps drive home the chaotic feel of the gameplay. The attention to detail this early on when it comes to the look and sound of Deflector has me very encouraged going forward.

What surprised me more than anything was how polished Deflector feels. Even though it’s clear there is a lot more coming down the pike, what launches in Early Access doesn’t feel disjointed or unplayable at all. I have plenty of questions about what is going to come next, including the hope for some clarity on what the overall objective is. Still, even without that, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Deflector so far. While there is plenty of room to grow, Arrowfirst has a potential superstar hit on their hands. The only question now is how far they are able to go with the potential that has been laid out.

Deflector launches on Steam in Early Access on January 27th.