Natsuki Chronicles review: Bullet hell mayhem

Qute /

Title: Natsuki Chronicles
Developer: Qute Corporation
Publishers: Rising Star Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), PC
Release Date: February 18, 2021

Natsuki Chronicles is a bullet hell, side-scroller that stars Natsuki Sugiura, a rookie pilot who hopped aboard her personal ship to dole out justice via roughly a million bullets. Over the course of the game, she begins to question the extreme methods her organization is using to take out criminals of various types and whether or not she’s doing the right thing.

Natsuki Chronicles is pretty story-heavy compared to other games in the genre. Story beats often happen while you’re playing, which is sort of a mixed blessing because while I enjoy learning the personalities of those I’m chasing down, it is distracting.

Story delivery is one of the biggest flaws with an otherwise very fun shooter. It’s so distracting. And not just the story, but the world itself.

Natsuki put a lot of work into giving players more variety than just the deserts, seascapes and void space flights that fill most of these games; but, in doing so, it reminded me of why most of those games offer little detail.

For example, in the thumbnail of the video above, you’ll see a skyscraper with several light blue horizontal stripes. As it passed by, I thought it fired a wall of lasers at me for a moment. That moment is all it takes to slip up in a bullet hell-type game.

Luckily, the good very much outweighs the bad. Natsuki Chronicles gives you so many options in this game that you can practically make it play however you want. One of my favorite options was a speed switch. With the tap of a button, I could go from making my ship lightning fast to as slow as a second hand. This was awesome for moments where a boss would go from firing a massive laser I had to dodge to firing a hail of bullets I had to carefully dance through. This feature was a godsend and I loved it.

As you play through the game you unlock and can purchase enhancements for your ship. You get two weapons that do a wide variety of things that you can mix and match. You want two different weapons firing in front of you so that you can easily tear through waves? Go for it. Do you want to have one of your weapons being a rear cannon so that you can chill in the middle of the screen and worry about having to dodge fewer bullets? I’m there with you. You can also adjust the flight path of the little drones that provide you shielding. There are even cosmetic changes to the ship though those are a bit rarer than I’d like.

Natsuki Chronicles
Qute /

Graphically, as I said before, the visuals can be a little distracting. It’s weird because there is a lot of detail and a lack of detail at the same time. Everything looks like it came out of a Mega Man X intro. There’s also a lot of fully animated 3D structures mixed with 2D anime-style stills. For example, check out the intro.

It’s somewhat bizarre because they will showcase 3D-sculpted ships and buildings but then the characters will pop up looking like someone checked out a “Learn to Draw Anime” book from a high school library. It was a bit disheartening, especially as a lot of female characters who talked through little squares looked near-identical (except for the hair which made me constantly forget who was who outside the main character).

The shooting itself is very gratifying. The enemies come in a decent enough variety and, with all the bullets on screen, it’s nice to see that they tend to look a little different. Even a single boss will have a variety of colors to its weapons which, I know sounds silly, but when you’re staring at a ton of moving parts trying to stay safe it keeps your eyes from going insane.

All in all, though, Natsuki Chronicles is a really solid shooter. While it is in need of a polish, it offers a ton of things to love if you’re a fan of bullet hell games.

7. While Natsuki Chronicles doesn’t add anything new to the genre, it definitely has a lot to offer those who are fans of bullet hell games. Despite a very distracting story mixed with equally distracting visuals, the game is a real fun time with plenty of unlocks to keep the replay value high.. Qute Corporation. . Natsuki Chronicles

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.