When a company calls itself Pyew Pyew, you know they're not going to make games about ponies. No, Godlaser, the opening salvo from Casey Yano and Anthony Giovanetti, is a vertically scrolling manic shooter (see Pararalyzer or The Last Canopy), influenced by Treasure's Ikaruga, among others, with a few tricks all its own.
Steer your ship with [WASD], and aim and fire with the mouse. The main thing you have to know, as the opening tutorial spells out in detail, is that enemy bullets come in three different flavors, and you can render yourself invulnerable to them by switching your ship to the correct color. Press [Q] for red, [E] for green, and [R] for blue. Changing forms serves a triple purpose—your main weapon takes on radically different characteristics, and absorbing bullets of your current color charges up one of three special meters that activate special abilities. You can heal your ship this way, release an area-clearing bomb attack, or even recharge your auxiliary weapon (fired with the [space] bar) once you have one.
There is also an extensive and unusual amount of customization available—not only do you gain experience points by killing enemy craft, but you collect money from their broken remains. The points go toward new abilities from a Diablo-style skill tree, while the money can be spent on upgrades to your ship's core statistics.
Analysis: What this all amounts to is an incredibly ambitious and far-reaching shooter, especially for something playable in your browser. In fact, the ideas outstrip the execution, because what should be an amazing game feels like it may have been released a bit too early. When it's working, when you're weaving through a maze of criss-crossing bullet patterns like a magic reindeer through a snowstorm, it's brilliant. But there is also a laundry list of features that are implemented clumsily or missing altogether.
The controls feel too complicated, simply because I don't have seven fingers on my left hand. The instructions on the power-up screens are confusing and sometimes contradictory. The pacing in many of the levels jumps erratically between hectic and yawning; a long stretch of helpless, boring cannon fodder enemies can give way suddenly to a vicious ambush. There is a puzzling lack of music during the levels, and when the boss theme kicks in, it fails to get the blood pumping for a good showdown.
But Godlaser just feels like it has too much potential to overlook. So I turn to you, the Jay is Games readers, for some constructive criticism. Your valuable and articulate insight has helped many a game developer in the past, so let's roll up our sleeves, tighten our suspenders, and give the good people at Pyew Pyew some feedback. If you don't like the game, what would make you want to play it? If you do like it, what about it is working for you? Godlaser is the first game from a pair of developers with a deep love for shoot-'em-ups and a lot of dedication. Let's help them get to the next level.