“A celestial flower blooms, as a vicious wasp protects. Complete their entwined symbiotic life cycle in a realm crawling with hunger,” reads the simple description for Nidus, an upcoming twin-stick shooter from indie developer Caleb Wood.
What it describes is some of the most entrancing gameplay snippets and trailers I’ve seen all year. Nidus is a twin-stick arcade shooter that looks to be some seriously demanding gameplay. Here’s the trick: You control both flower and wasp as a symbiotic organism to survive their strange ecosystem long enough to complete their life cycle.
The two characters push and pull against each other. The wasp can smash, slice, and sting enemies with great speed. The flower has a more stable movement, and can seemingly fire projectiles both directionally and in spinning bursts. As the wasp takes down enemies it collects energy that it can use to pollinate the flower, which lets it unleash those burst attacks—and heal the duo.
None of this of course mentions the scintillating, rippling colors and effects that Nidus has going on. It’s painted in a rich palette heavy with oranges, blues, purples, yellows, and reds, with the wasp and flower highlight in brilliant white lighting effects that change in tone as the backgrounds and enemies shift in color. It’s the kind of art style that takes a well-designed game from forgettable to memorable—or in this case from “not on my wishlist” to “on my wishlist.”
Nidus’ bosses will be nonlinear, Mega Man style, letting you choose the order of levels. Whichever you choose though, the others will become more powerful. “The last boss chosen will always be strongest,” says the developer. Defeating a boss enables you to upgrade either the wasp or flower.
Perhaps most exciting for some of us is that you’ll also be able to play the two-character game with two people. It’ll have local co-op with one player as the flower and the other as the wasp, letting you take down foes in style with a friend. It’ll be supported by Steam’s Remote Play Together, as well, so you can locally cooperate in, uh, nonlocal fashion.