Astebreed is a sort of shoot'em'up / 3D mecha game hybrid. There's a fairly complicated melee system which makes the game very different from normal shooters. In addition to a generic shot and melee you have the ability to lock-on to enemies in an area.
The view of the gameplay shifts throughout the game; scrolling directions change and sometimes you only shoot enemies in the background. This is the best implementation of this I've seen so far, I felt it didn't disturb my gameplay at all unlike say in Eschatos or Ether Vapor.
A single playthrough while skipping all cutscenes takes about 30 minutes, which is average for a shmup. There is also chapter select to play each of the 6 chapters.
+ Extremely impressive presentation for an indie game. Graphics, music and sound effects are all top notch
+ Shooting and melee combat systems are merged nicely. There is a lot of depth to how the systems can be used.
+ Approachable to beginners of the genre due to varied difficulty options, lifebar and a comprehensive tutorial
+ Simple intuitive scoring system; shoot things with your shot or lock-on to increase a multiplier, then get a lot of points by killing enemies using melee attacks with a high multiplier
+ Well produced (but generic) anime storyline to follow throughout the game. I'm assuming the japanese voice actors are pretty good as well.
+ Lots of extras and achievements to unlock
- It can be very difficult to see bullets and your hitbox when there's a lot of stuff going on
- Some unskippable cutscenes even with story dialogue turned off in options
- No 'super difficult' mode for hardcore fans of the genre. There's also not that much actual bullet dodging on hard mode because about half of all bullet patterns can be cancelled with melee strikes.
- Lack of cohesion in enemy behavior: the same enemy type might shoot completely different attack patterns in different waves. Some attacks aren't telegraphed well (very fast red lasers without warning, etc)