Space Moth DX is a Bullet Hell where you play as a moth equipped with both a wide-shot attack and a laser, because as developer 1CC Games puts it “everything is better with lasers”, a fact that is very much true. Before starting off the game you may want to pick from a couple of background art packages or rotate the screen vertically to play in true arcade style fashion. Unlike the arcades, as you will very soon find out is that you cannot simply pump more credits into the machine to get more continues. What you have at the start of the game is all that you will get. This is not a title that wants you to brute force your way through it but to refine your skills until you are actually capable of doing so.
Your overall goal is to complete it in one go to unlock a new character but if you die you will simply go back to the previous checkpoint which are always right before a boss or at the start of a new level. This will reset your score and will spawn you in as you were during that point of the game so if you had a single life and no bombs right before a particularly difficult boss fight, that will not change. At times it is better just to restart the game if you end up in such a predicament and find yourself at a road block such as that. As previously mentioned, Space Moth DX expects you to refine your skills and knowledge of the game, not brute force it. It also helps that the game is probably less than 20 minutes long if you have the skill, unlike me that only managed to beat it at around four hours.
If you get stuck or just have trouble with one particular stage there is a practice mode that lets you choose what stage to start on, even allowing you to start at a boss fight. The gameplay is mostly your standard affair of shoot enemies and avoid being shot yourself though there is an interesting twist to your wide-shot attack. It will devastate smaller enemies but when used upon larger foes, you will steal their soul, causing them to turn jet black and far more aggressive. Destroy these soulless enemies with your laser and you will end up with quite a nice chunk of points for your effort. Why the moth is able to steal the souls of the other insects and who the real villain here is, are questions best left unanswered.
Unfortunately, there are no online leaderboards while lives & bombs themselves are found throughout the level so points are nothing but bragging rights for this title. You will start off with three lives and three bombs for each life. The bombs here do clear out all the projectiles from the screen but will only destroy the enemies it lands near of. While starting up the game you can choose to turn on an auto-bomb feature that will save you from a fatal hit but it will cost you all the bombs in your possession which can be invaluable at times. Destroying certain enemies or scenery may have an extra bomb or life for you though they are very rare. A neat feature that I didn’t realize at the start is that while firing a laser you will have a destructive aura around you that damages enemies that graze you.
One mechanic I found annoying is that some enemies like the giant butterfly or spiders are indestructible until they let off a few attacks or reach nearly the center of the screen. It just feels off not being able to destroy them before they get the chance to become a threat and having to wait until they stand a fighting chance. The moth is a gentleman it seems. Joking aside, normal enemies are pretty simple to deal with, it is only when the bosses arrive that things get serious. The one on the second stage is definitely a sudden difficulty spike and funnily enough, the third boss is rather easy. Nonetheless, most will restrict your movements via webs or pincers, have some areas of their body where they don’t take damage and will test your mettle.
The last boss “fight” is simply you dodging a plethora of projectiles nonstop for a minute and a half. Many games of the genre have intentional slowdown to help you when things get too hectic but there is none of that here. I do not mean for these few last sentences to sound like a bad thing, Space Moth DX wants you to hone your skills but is not a title I’d suggest for those new to the genre. It is, in my opinion, more for prior fans of the genre, that have gotten too used to pumping imaginary credits into their MAME emulator and have lost their edge as a result. Don’t let me stop you if you think you are up to the challenge though, it will certainly make you into a proficient Bullet Hell gamer.
From dragonflies and beetles to giant spiders, all the enemy sprite art looks very nice and horrifying in that latter case. I have not run into any technical issues and the game ran smooth all throughout the 5 stages. It does stumble on the audio side of things sadly. Music is forgettable with sound effects being quite frankly sub-par. To add longevity there is a DX mode in where enemies and projectiles are a bit faster. The main difference for that mode is that enemies and even the environment objects such as mushrooms will leave a trail of projectiles upon being destroyed for a chance of revenge from the grave. All in all, while Space Moth DX does have some faults, it is a great buy for fans of the genre that are up for a challenge.