There ain’t nothing wrong with a little shmup and grind…or is there?
Alkemi is a small french independent studio focused on creating original and polished games with a tendency to mix genres in unexpected ways. The main goal of the team : creating medium sized games with high production value, appealing to hardcore players but not exclusively.
Drifting Lands takes place in the skies of a shattered planet. Centuries ago a huge cataclysm fragmented and froze this world in a state of partial disintegration. Powerful and mysterious gravitational anomalies keep the huge chunks of rock from drifting away in space or collapsing into a single body. The last floating continents fit for human civilization are controlled by big private corporations acting as totalitarian states. These so called nations compete fiercely to survive and exploit every available natural resources.
In this hostile world, a few nomadic communities try to survive with a certain degree of freedom. You’re part of one of these bands of outcasts. A new recruit in a caravan of outlaws, smugglers and mercenaries. Always trying to survive, always on the move. But your little community is not free of strifes and political intrigues. Scarce resources, limited personal space, harsh political decisions are all fuel for petty jealousies or old blood feuds between families.
The continued existence of the scrolling shoot-em-up is a minor pleasure to me. There’s just something cathartic about holding down a button, and spaceships blow up. Obviously, there’s more to it than that, but blowing things up is definitely the most relaxing part of the experience. It’s definitely a bullet hell shooter in its own right and I found myself bracing for impact instead of finding a pattern in hopes to lessen the blow, but they have skills that help with those difficult situations. Some skills can absorb certain enemy fire for a few seconds, while one skill can slow down time, making escape possible. Some skills are offensive while some are passive ex: Automatic Retreat for instance, this is one of your passive skills and is equipped at the start. It lets you retreat the mission once your ship’s life hits 0 but losing all your loot in the process. Really it becomes more of the player finding if the skills he/she have equipped will complement the current ship and gear.
Whatever your approach to Drifting Lands whether it be heavily defensive or highly aggressive, there are ships at your disposal to choose from which cater to that particular playstyle. The deeper you dive into the game the more you come to realize just how immersive the game is, and with its unique blend of action RPG with Shmup incorporated you get this genuine experience that can’t be found anywhere else. If you’re a fan of Shmups along with action RPGs then Drifting Lands is most definitely an instant buy.
I really enjoyed the popping colours and visuals during game play. It does have a lot going on mind you and if you aren’t used to a game with so much happening in one second, then you may feel slightly overwhelmed! All in all the graphics in the game are very good, with its hand drawn character art during the conversations, and unique looking levels. My biggest issue was the levels didn’t feel that varied with the only difference between each level was what the background looked like. And while the backgrounds did look nice, during confrontations with large groups of enemies I hardly noticed their presence.
To cover this off right away, I recommend playing this game with a controller. I used my trusty PS4 controller and was able to sail my ship through combat with great ease (Obviously not the times I crashed it, that was due to lack of skill! ) I had no difficulty whatsoever with what button did what and found the maneuverability very smooth
Over all conclusion
Drifiting Lands is an exciting action-packed game with a lot of depth to the challenges it presents its players. The storytelling side is very weak, and I believe some work on the immersion aspect of that could improve it dramatically. The selection of playable ships is typical, but that being said, it’s rewarding when you unlock stronger vessels. This game delivers an interesting angle to the “battle for loot” genre, and I’m hoping it’s rewarded with a dedicated fan base given its lively character. if you can get along with the fact that the game’s enemies start throwing serious bullet, laser, and explosive crap at you by Grade 3 out of 10 (And it gets nastier), then this might very well be a game you want to check out, for experimenting with the shmup formula. I will honour Drifting Lands a shmup-tastic Thumb Culture Silver Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.