One genre that I can't get enough of is shoot 'em ups. I think I'll be taking them to my deathbed. The high-octane action, the emphasis on pinpoint precision, and the constant positive reinforcement of blowing up enemies and getting massively entertaining power-ups is just too great of a force. .Decluster [$2.99] is my latest obsession, and it ticks all the right boxes.

As  a vertical shooter, your ship will automatically scroll upwards as it contends with enemies of a variety of different shapes and sizes. Basic shots are automatic, and pressing down on the screen with another finger will automatically enact a homing shot (that recharges over time), which actually functions more like a massive bomb blast you may be used to in other titles in the genre. The blast actually cancels out enemy shots as well, and it's your job to try and use it when most of the screen real estate is filled up with them to earn the most points.

decluster 3 decluster 2

Enemy movements are unconventional and refreshing, and out of nowhere they can start filling up the screen with a hellish amount of bullets -- and I don't use that phrase lightly. To my surprise there are also a bunch of unique bosses to fight, like one that hides behind a giant series of walls similar to Arkanoid or Space Invaders. Lengthy, intense boss fights with multiple phases are also a go, and are just as thrilling as many classics in the genre. If there's one thing Decluster manages to do best, it's link the old and the new almost effortlessly.

As you progress you'll start to use your homing attack more actively, effectively diving head-on into the amount of strategic depth this game really offers. I didn't expect it at first, but there really is a lot of meat here, and even after playing for hours I discovered new ways to approach different situations. Decluster really is masterfully crafted, especially when it comes to the curtain patterns of the bullets -- you can really tell the development team took some time to get them right. It helps that the controls are extremely responsive, and that you can adjust them to your personal preference in the options menu.

Decluster has an art style similar to Toast Time [$2.99], which I think fits perfectly in the mobile space. It manages to give off its own identity without looking too much like other shooters on the market, even if it operates similar to a Touhou Project title or a Cave shooter. The pixelated animations are sleek, and the soundtrack gets me sufficiently pumped to blow up some bad guys.

If you're new to the genre you can select the beginner difficulty setting, and if you have more experience, medium or expert might be for you. Having testing all three I'm happy to say that they're all pretty accurate, and even medium presents a fairly hefty challenge from the very start.

.Decluster - into the Bullet Hell is a modern masterpiece in the shooter arena. It pretty much has everything you could want -- an easy to pick up control scheme, addictive sensibility, and a stark level of challenge for those of you who want to work to perfect every stage and boss encounter. It's one that I'll be playing for weeks to come.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarStar
  • AvengedInstinct

    Maglor in 3...2...1...

    • Guest

      I le­ft m­­y desk j­o­b a­nd today I make Eighty-five bucks per-hour. How i did it? I work over internet! My last work wasn't for me ,so I decided to try something new… Two yrs after...I can say in great confidence it was a life changing decision for me! Check it out, what it is about...--->

  • brantov

    awesome game. just awesome.

  • Maglor

    ★_ヽ ♬ ♪♪
      \\ Λ_Λ ♬
     ♪♪ \( 'ㅅ' ) This is StarStarStarStarStar♬
     ♬  > ⌒ヽ
       /   へ\ ♩♪
       /  / \\
       レ ノ   ☆つ
      / /
      / /|
     ( (ヽ Oh Yeah~~~!!!
     | |、\
     | 丿 \ ⌒)
     | |  ) /
    ノ )  Lノ
    (_/

    • Majojora'sMaskFan

      So six stars, because you have another star there lol

  • spblat

    Bought on your recommendation. I especially like the feeling of immense firepower that comes pretty quickly. You don't get that from Sky Force, the last game like this to grab me by the throat.

  • Luciano1084

    Pretty awesome game I must say.. Chaotic is putting it lightly

  • poppichicken

    YES YES YES!!! Excellent review Chris. Great to see this *amazing* game getting the recognition it deserves. .Decluster has surpassed Cave's shooters (and even the superb Danmaku Unlimited 2)
    as my fave iOS shooter. Most appropriate use of the MaglorCat(tm) ever!

    • Majojora'sMaskFan

      Love the trademark cats lol

      • poppichicken

        MaglorCat(tm) is a surefire sign of quality.
        Well, most of the time.
        :o)

      • Majojora'sMaskFan

        Omg amazing

      • Majojora'sMaskFan

        When is it not?

  • Goggles789

    The art style is hilariously basic, considering the genre. I like that a lot. Very refreshing. Can't wait to try the game itself!

  • armilla

    Love shmups, love cave and danmaku, but didn't pull the trigger just yet — this review has tipped the scale. This is definitely a genre that need not die, so let's chip in, especially on a 5 star review —

  • Chq

    Ship is too big, animations are too innovativeless and the price is too high.

    • DoctorFedora

      Impressively enough, this is actually not the wrongest opinion I've ever seen expressed on the internet, though it does come pretty close.

  • poppichicken

    Chq - NO JUST NO. Wow.

  • 7lilwhitewolf7

    Funtaztic Review Chris! Thankz

  • adz4u28

    I appreciate that some games graphics are bad but they are still good games.. Having been playing games for the last 38 years.

    But to see a game that uses sprites from 1981. Nope. Lazy. This is such a Wierd trend, did all the graphics artists quit or something. Game is solid, graphics are well.... Non existent you may as well of used letters oh wait... Hey it's 2015. Or are you expecting apple to put graphics chips from zx80s into the iPad Air 3?

    • 7lilwhitewolf7

      It iz called paying homage{.}

    • poppichicken

      When dealing with MEEELIONS of bullets bearing down on you, that visual simplicity is appreciated!

      • 7lilwhitewolf7

        I see ? you did there. Thankz for helping me smile today

      • poppichicken

        And I even spelled MEEELLIONS wrong! How embarrassment!

      • 7lilwhitewolf7

        Naaaah Yo! You wuz doin Austin Powers "one hundred MEEELLION bulletz" Please laugh

      • Majojora'sMaskFan

        Just lol

    • DoctorFedora

      yo that's exactly how I know that Schindler's List is a garbage movie because it's in black and white like boring old people movies

      • adz4u28

        I never said it was a garbage game, perhaps you should learn to read?

  • 7lilwhitewolf7

    I would like to start something new for those that dont like to have fun on TA. How about when there is an awesome review with a great title and memebers that are praising the game give an all caps reply "IGNORE PLEASE" to the members who sadly feel a need to drain the fun out. All for, say yay! All opposed... I am straight stupid today

    • Majojora'sMaskFan

      Just lol...... Again

  • Goggles789

    Tried it and it's worth every penny. The music is particularly cheerful!

.Decluster: Into the Bullet Hell Reviewed by Chris Carter on . Rating: 5