This is a pretty game.
The art style is clever, unique and clear to make out.
Unfortunately, those are pretty much all the positive things that can be said about it.
Ballpoint Universe is half adventure-platformer and half level-based horizontal shooter, both halves have some glaring problems sapping the fun.On the platformer side
You walk around a hand-drawn environment, finding new character to help so that you can unlock the next area. Helping a character involves playing a level in the horizontal shooter.
There's a plot in this half, and it's not that bad actually. The Doodles are in a war with the geometrical Logicians and it is your job to find out what's going on with the Logicians and how to stop the war.
The main gripe with this segment is that the controls are very, very weird. With three control schemes available (keyboard, mouse and controller. Mouse being the default) you'd think there was something in there for everyone's tastes.
Jumping is floaty to the point where it's almost impossible to accurately steer where your little doodle guy is going. This isn't such a big deal at first, but for some reason the developers decided that precision platforming is exactly what would make the second half better.On the horizontal shooter side
The first impression here is a lot better, which is good since this is the meat of the game.
You fly around in a little ship with 4 customizable parts (2 weapons, a hull and a type of special weapon with limited uses) destroying or dodging all enemies until you get to the boss of the level, that you then have to defeat. You then get Ink to spend on getting new parts and upgrading existing parts (Ink can also be earned in the platformer half, but has no use there).
Pricing on new gear is very high though, so you'll need to fly a lot of missions before you're able to get that heat seeking missile pod (not the ultimate weapon, just my personal favourite).
There's some finesse where some enemies have armour that can only be bypassed with melee weapons, so it's generally a good idea to bring one gun and one melee weapon.
What frustrated me here is a minor detail, but one that I couldn't exclude here. The heat seeker missiles I mentioned are excellent when they work as intended, and are even capable of getting around those pesky melee-only shields. However, the targeting on them is way off. Missed enemies that are by now far behind you and out view, scenery, enemies that haven't spawned yet, everything gets targeted by it. This is more apparent on some levels than on others, but especially since it's such a late-game weapon where players will have had to save up Ink for dozens of missions, it just reeks of poor design and/or testing.
Ballpoint Universe isn't a bad game, but beyond the distinctive graphics there just isn't anything exceptional there.
You can enjoy it, but the same can be said more so of a lot of other games on offer.