Illuminascii Is A First-Person Shooter Made Of Text

Illustration for article titled Illuminascii Is A First-Person Shooter Made Of Text
SteamedSteamedSteamed is dedicated to all things in and around Valve’s PC gaming service.

Illuminascii definitely doesn’t look like other first-person shooters.

Let’s start with a GIF. Look at me kicking down that door! Isn’t that cool?


I wish more of Illuminascii felt that good. I’ve been playing the new Steam roguelike FPS for about an hour, and I really wish it was doing more for me. I mean, it’s a shooter that’s largely made of letters and words. I’m into it. At one point I kicked a trashcan over, and an ASCII art kitty cat scampered out. What a fun thing! What a cool detail. Also the roguelike elements are strong in this one: random levels and enemies, perma death, XP and stats, and even a hunger system are present and accounted for. It’s a surprisingly atmospheric mash-up of modern roguelike-likes and the genre’s ASCII roots.

And, again, door kicking. Charging at a door, kicking it down, and blasting whatever’s on the other side. It feels awesome. I can’t emphasize that enough.

As a bigtime liker of roguelike-likes, I thought I had a new addiction on my hands. Problem: my hands don’t love it. Movement feels slow and janky, and with enemies that are often positioned to take you by surprise, I’m irritated by my inability to strafe effectively. Shooting feels equally awkward, alternating between imprecise and unsatisfying (pistol) and too precise for certain weapon types (shotgun).

Also the level design is kind of a mess, the sort of randomization that makes you wish there was a little more method in the madness. So far, I’ve wandered around aimlessly, searching through drawers and other objects for “clues”—floppy discs and things of the like. Once I collect enough, the level exit opens up and I can move on.

Illustration for article titled Illuminascii Is A First-Person Shooter Made Of Text

Some of it feels arbitrary, though. In one level I couldn’t find the last clue, and I ended up having to slip into a crevice between a wall and the side of a building that was practically invisible to the naked eye. In that crevice fit for a malnourished rodent or Mr Fantastic if he’s having a particularly two dimensional sort of day? A door. No reasonable human would put a door there, and thus, no reasonable human would look for one there either. Fortunately, I am only occasionally given to flights of reason.

Portions of Illuminascii have been really fun for me, but as a complete package, it has some serious cracks in its foundation. I’m gonna stick with it for a bit longer, at least, but I won’t lie: I’m a little bummed. It’s no fun getting excited about a game, only to play it and go, “...oh” and then “:\” Here’s hoping it gets better.


You’re reading Steamed, Kotaku’s page dedicated to all things in and around Valve’s stupidly popular PC gaming service. Games, culture, community creations, criticism, guides, videos—everything. If you’ve found anything cool/awful on Steam, send us an email to let us know.

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @vahn16.


This kinda feels like the designers didn’t ‘get’ their high level concept. Like, it was to make an FPS-like experience using ASCII inspired visuals. But instead they just made an FPS using an ASCII-like visual skin.