Astral Gunners Review

Astral Gunners

Astral Gunners is the breakout title for the Sati Bros, two brothers who have been working on this passion project for over four years.

I first had a chance to try Astral Gunners at MAGFest a few years ago and I even went home and downloaded the demo (I mainly remember this because when they gave me a key, I already had a handful of achievements unlocked back in 2020). The fact that I felt a desire to continue playing the demo after trying it at MAGFest speaks volumes to me.

Bullet hells aren’t my usual forte, especially side-scrolling ones (I’m mainly a Touhou player). So as a self-admitted danmaku casual, how does Astral Gunners hold up?

Astral Gunners

Astral Gunners
Developer: Sati Bros
Publisher: Sati Bros
Platforms: Windows PC
Release Date: June 21, 2024
Players: 1-2
Price: $19.99

Astral Gunners kicks off with a cartoony vibe, showing the titular Astral Gunners facing off against the forces of evil: the Dark Gunner and his allies. The Astral Gunners are a colorful team of warriors designed to prepare space for their human creators. Each of the gunners is affiliated with a different world that suits their skills and talents. For example the Blue Gunner is associated with Azuria, a world hosting a massive data center and research base. My personal favorite is the Light Gunner, his defensive ability is just too convenient.

After beating Light World, players can choose any of the other worlds at their leisure, creating a customizable route. While worlds are assigned a difficulty, it can be convenient to defeat a more difficult world earlier. The big reason I liked this is because if you keep dying on a certain world in your Arcade runs, you can tackle it earlier rather than later in case it once again ends your run.

The game also features a single stage mode to practice tricky parts and also compete for single stage hi-scores. Overall, the game seems designed with bullet hell enthusiasts in mind with its scoring system. Players are encouraged to find optimal timings for their ultimate abilities, since using your ultimate charges up a bonus score modifier that culminates in a “System Overload”, a period where you get +200% points before being reset to +0%. For score chasers, mastering this will be crucial.

There’s also hidden SP Medallions in every stage, as well as UFO enemies that award bonus points. The SP Medallions are typically hidden in spots that require skill, luck, or repeat plays to find. In fact, some of them are downright unfair. For example the second medallion in Light World blends in with the pillar it’s hidden beside, and also appears during the first sub-boss of the game so you’re focusing on not dying. Meanwhile another SP Medallion (I think it was in Crimson Peaks) an enemy flies quickly to the top right while dragging the medallion. You either need to know it’s coming, or be lucky with your positioning to catch it. My favorite medallions were obvious to spot, but required skill and careful movement to collect (or a special ability to clear the bullets).

Astral Gunners

One of the neat little quality of life features was a marker behind your character that shows where the boss is vertically. This allows players to kind of zone out and focus primarily on dodging bullets without having to watch the actual enemy sprite.

However I do have some complaints graphically, and no it’s not the basic stick-and-ball design of (most) of the bots, it’s the background and bullets not quite being distinct enough on the screen. Some bullets blend in too well with the background, and some stage hazards are difficult to recognize at first.

Astral Gunners

In one noteworthy example, in the stage Dystopia, there’s parts where there’s physical walls on the stage that you have to maneuver around before getting squished by the edge of the screen. In one part where a horizontal wall splits the field of play in half, I legit ran into the wall and didn’t notice it (I just assumed my character was slowing down for a mid-boss cutscene) and died.

But let’s talk about the music. The music absolutely slaps and features original songs performed by Sami Sati and some guest soloists. My favorite song was “Sunny Sky, Stormy Heart”. I actually went back and bought the soundtrack on Steam while writing this review, that’s how much I enjoyed the music.

Astral Gunners

Ultimately, Astral Gunners is a fantastic game which provides an easy-to-pick-up experience for casual bullet hell gamers, while also providing tools for hardcore score chasers to really get into the game. There are a few questionable graphical decisions that pull me out of it, but it’s nothing that can’t be overlooked after I got used to it.

Astral Gunners was reviews on PC with a copy provided by the Sati Bros. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Astral Gunners is available now on Windows PC (via Steam).


The Verdict: 7

The Good

  • Phenomenal soundtrack
  • Approachable for casuals while giving tools to hardcore players
  • Multiple playable characters
  • Easy to use but difficult to master Specials
  • Saturday morning cartoon vibes

The Bad

  • Basic "stick-and-ball" style characters
  • "Unfair" Medallion placement
  • Some hazards are difficult to identify


A basement-dwelling ogre, Brandon's a fan of indie games and slice of life anime. Has too many games and not enough time.

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