Deflector Hands-on Impressions

Deflector Hands-on Impressions

By  Jacob Sanderson - 11th Dec 2023

Get deflectin'

Deflector Hands-on Impressions

Deflector is a title which combines two of my favourite things into one incredibly satisfying package: isometric action-roguelike, alongside satisfying parrying mechanics. Taking the role of a Bioshell, we are set into an array of “experiments” to defeat the Apex Virus’, and finally take down “The Source”.

Choose Your Journey

Deflector is formatted in an incredibly familiar way to many other action roguelikes, with each run taking 30-40 minutes on average, with you fighting through bosses and enemies while growing in strength as you progress. Each run initially gives you a choice between one of four locations, each area having its unique threats and hazards. Each run consists of completing three of the four areas in succession, with increasing difficulty as you proceed, and then finally defeating The Source at the end. Each area has a set of encounters, each with varying challenges and rewards, along with both a Great Virus and an Apex Virus. These act as minibosses and main bosses, respectively, and lead to some of the most interesting upgrades for your character.

Deflect, Deflect, Deflect

Combat feels utterly wonderful within Deflector. Each room consists of you killing hordes of enemies with a series of different attacks and abilities. As the title would suggest, Deflecting is a big part of the flow of combat, with the latter parts of the game leaning into bullet hell territory; however, the flow between deflecting, dodging and attacking feels incredibly natural and never feels overwhelming. Different Bioshells have functionally different deflect mechanics which makes even the game's core mechanic have a lot of unique variety. For example, the Slasher Bioshell has a 360-degree deflect, which is incredibly safe but lacks precision, while the first Bioshell has a shield which deflects in a smaller radius but with higher precision (and can also deflect his boomerang, which is unreasonably satisfying).

Boost Your Bioshell

Boost Your Bioshell

As you journey throughout the Experiment you’ll collect a variety of new upgrades in the form of Core Attributes, Mutations, Evolution and, Nucleolus. Each of these has a limited amount of slots, and can be found from dedicated sources, such as Nucleolus from Apex Virus’ and Evolution upgrades from Great Virus’. These do a fantastic job of synergising with the player's abilities, to create some genuinely interesting builds: Mutations are smaller upgrades to your base systems; Evolution directly affects your main attack, adding new effects or outright changing them in new and interesting ways; Nucleolus are abilities themed around each of the Apex Viruses which have drastic effects, oftentimes on your active ability and Core Attributes directly increase one of your three main stats, Attack, Health and Deflect. This is further improved by the incredible playstyle variety within the 6 different Bioshells, which have drastically different playstyles, with some being incredibly bizarre (in a good way of course). I won’t get into detail and risk spoiling some of the interesting surprises with the Bioshells but they have some of my favourite playstyles and designs from a roguelike of Deflector’s style. Throughout each run, you’ll also collect DNA and progress your research, which is how the game's meta-progression is laid out. Research will passively unlock new mutations which can be found on runs going forward, while DNA can be spent on Permanent and Activated Enhancements. Permanent Enhancements consist of passive effects and upgrades, such as increasing the amount of healing you get from safe rooms to additional shops throughout each run. Activated Enhancements work in mostly the same way. However, only a limited amount can be equipped at one time, which helps limit any insane power creep which is often seen in games like this.

Deflector has proven to be one of my favourite roguelikes as of late, with some incredibly satisfying gameplay and a wonderful visual style it’s without a doubt worth the pickup if you’re a fan of anything even remotely close!



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