Drifting Lands - Steam/PC Review

A nostalgic return to the Shmup era, with a nice dose of action role playing to spice things up.

Game Info

  • System: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows
  • Publisher: ROCKFISH Games GmbH
  • Developer:ROCKFISH Games GmbH
  • Release Date: May 26, 2017

EVERSPACE™ Teaser Gameplay Trailer

Who it Caters to

The name Drifting Lands sounds like a fantasy driven role playing game that takes place in the far distant future, and indeed it does. However what it throws into the mix is this incredibly action packed and fast paced role playing style, paired with a very classic and popular genre known as Shmup. The minute you dive into the game, there’s a plethora of things to learn and adapt to, with various skills you’ll unlock which can really assist you in specific battles or simply just buff your ship and prevent fatal damage. 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.

What to Expect

There’s so much in this game that you’ll find enjoyment in, whether it simply be testing out the various strengths and weaknesses of each ship, or just wandering through space to collect as many parts as possible. Drifting Lands is nothing short of brilliant because it does such an incredible job of implementing a good balance between action and being able to organize your skill set in such a way to benefit you in the long run. The music within the game is awesome as well and really sets the mood whenever you’re cruising through space taking out enemies as they pass by. The game is challenging enough that you’re not overwhelmed by everything that’s happening, but not too simple to the point where you want to put it down and move onto something. Its seamless animations and glorious visuals only add to the already savory gameplay, while throwing in some humor during dialogue with your crew members. Let’s dive in deeper in the gameplay and explain just why Drifting Lands should be the next game you pick up.

Gameplay

So you already know by now if you’ve made it this far in the article that, we truly love Drifting Lands, not because it bleeds nostalgia but moreso because it tries something fresh that not many other game developers have attempted to do. A lot of the time you either get one or the other, a hardcore Shmup title that comes with all the nuts and bolts, or your typical action RPG that’s all about beating the living crap out of enemies and leveling up the main protagonist. Drifting Lands does both in such a way that one doesn’t hinder the other, but rather fuse together convincingly to create a very entertaining experience. The game starts you off with a tutorial to get you accustomed to everything that’s happening, then eventually you find yourself in the thick of it all trying to strategically come up with ways to avoid dying, and carefully using your skills at the right time. You’re able to choose from three ships, all of which come with their own pros and cons. The Interceptor is the ship that’s catered to those who fancy the classic Shmup gameplay, and it really acts as the well rounded ship. The other two are catered more to aggressive styles or the more defensive style and so whatever fits your profile best, all the options are there for you.

Every stage you encounter comes in grades and you start from the first one, then slowly work your way up the ladder. Challenges will progressively become much harder the higher the grade but that’s perhaps the most rewarding aspect about it all, because you feel a great sense of accomplishment once you’ve made it to the top. Each stage is randomly generated which means that every encounter you have will always be different which only adds more replay value to an already immersive title, and with over 100 levels of difficulty to try and overcome Drifting Lands is just a gift that keeps on giving. What may be a little off putting for some however is the complexities behind the item system and how to carefully manage whatever you salvage after your missions. It’s good and bad of course because it’s provide a very deep and thought provoking experience, but on the other hand it may cause some confusion as you go forward since there are so many items to take into consideration. Many of these items come with stat modifiers that can really turn the tide in your favor, but you’ll have to be very meticulous with how you play because sometimes things get a little tricky. Keeping track of the items at times may just drift by your head because you’re so heavily focused on leveling up and cruising ahead, so as a fair warning just be sure to stay organized with items because they really do help you in the long run. Upgrading skills is quite simple and so all you really need to do is decide as to whether the skill is going to benefit you either short term or long term, and that’s where the strategy comes into play. You don’t want to die too frequently in this game because you run the risk of losing items you’ve collected and you’ll have to start over again, rebuilding and refining. The game does allow you to manually retreat from missions that just seem too overbearing on your ship, which is the smart thing because you’ll encounter a lot of difficult enemies that just are unforgiving. You automatically receive a skill that lets you retreat but doing so may put you at risk since you can also lose what you’ve collected, so it becomes a game of whether to manually escape or use the auto escape which will all depend on the situation.

We didn’t run into any serious bugs as we played through the campaign but the team at Alkemi have been doing a stellar job to ensure that their fans needs are met, and are releasing patches to clean all of the mess up. Indie companies, from what we’ve experienced, really have a knack for really listening to their community more than these big companies and that’s such a plus because if it weren’t for us a lot of these companies would cease to exist. So hats off to Alkemi for really taking the initiative to ensuring their game continues to shine and provide a smooth experience for everyone. Speaking of everyone, it would’ve been nice to see some added features in the near future, preferably a multiplayer feature that allows for maybe 1-2 players to tackle missions together similarly to your classic Shmup games of the early 90’s. Of course, the single player aspect of Drifting Lands is still quite nice and we had a blast playing, but it sure would’ve been crazy to play online or even locally with a friend and level up together.

Be that as it may, Drifting Lands comes with a plethora of options to choose from, allowing you to customize your ships and use special power ups that really synergize well with equipment you acquire.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

Overall we had a lot of fun with Drifting Lands and we would certainly come back to play more should added options be implemented in the future. We’ll be honest and say that Drifting Lands will not be for everyone, but as we stated in the opening paragraph if you enjoy action RPGs or Shmups then certainly give it a shot. It’s truly worth the experience and the money you’re paying for it, and with Alkemi constantly making sure the game receives patches to ensure smooth performance you know you’re getting your money’s worth.

Honey's Pros:

  • Great visuals.
  • Awesome soundtrack.
  • Deep and methodical gameplay.
  • A nice fusion between action RPG and Shmup create a unique experience.

Honey's Cons:

  • Lack of multiplayer options may turn off some players.
  • Item selection system may be a bit overwhelming for some to understand.

Honey's Final Verdict:

Whatever your taste in games, Honey’s Gaming has it all for you and we certainly hope you found this review to be not only insightful but resourceful as well. Be sure to let us know your thoughts down below and follow us on Twitch to know when we go live with gameplay. Also, we have a gaming giveaway happening right now, so if you’re itching for a new game to play then don’t hesitate to enter! You can find all of the details by clicking on the top banner of the page and from there you can enter! Best of luck to all of those who’ve already placed their bets and we’ll see you again next time!

As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.

Rob

Editor/Writer

Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

100% Vegan. A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and join me on Discord! Take care!

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