Jamestown might be the most refined game I’ve played in the last decade. A top down bullet hell shooter set in an alternate history timeline (largely mirroring early American history, only this time with aliens), it presents itself with an air of confidence, as if it realizes what a pedigree its of and is determined to make you see so as well.
You can try to break down what makes Jamestown so great into understandable pieces of a larger whole, but it’s the combination of them all that pushes it beyond a decent reimagining of classic shmups, into a modern classic. The feel of the ships is relentlessly precise, the action ferocious and incredibly satisfying, and the presentation crafting a remarkably well realized world (despite how little exposition there is).
The more you play Jamestown, the more these elements shine, upping the ante at a breakneck pace, forcing you to improve or perish. However, it does so in a way that allows for a natural increase in skill, letting players ease into the challenge instead of pushing them into it right from the start like the games of the genre are so known for. It also creates a continuous stream of rewards for players that manage to improve past the point of entry, with more elaborate enemy designs, tougher boss fights, and some truly grueling challenge levels. And then you have the coop, the glorious coop, the only flaw of which is that it is sadly local only. Should you get a chance to play with some friends though, it’s a fantastic experience that scales perfectly and adds even more replay value as you go through levels that now feel new once again.
At times the action is so intense that it’s hard to even keep track of your ship, let alone take in all that Jamestown has to offer, but when you can manage to take a step back it’s incredible the level of polish applied to even the smallest areas of the game. I was quite frankly taken aback when I first gave it a try, and this feeling was renewed even up to the very last boss fight, which was as epic and satisfying as I could have hoped for. If you have even the most remote fondness for bullet hell games, Jamestown is about as penultimate an entry point into the genre as you could hope for. Everyone with more than a passing enjoyment of the genre should have played it long ago, but if not, consider this a wake up call that you’ve been sleeping on something awesome.