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A flashy looking shoot-em up which attempts to blend in RPG elements, but is it enough to reinvent the genre or is it all just a fancy shell? What is it about the shoot-em up genre that caused it to fall out of vogue with gamers? Unquestionably the genre was for generations one of the great video game cornerstones but recent years have seen a steep decline in these games being produced, leaving many gamers with little choice but revisiting the retro classics. Was it the simplicity of these games or the on rails world they exist within? It’s unclear what caused this decline while at the same time of course making all the more exciting to finally have a new one to play.
Here, indie developer Alkemi, brings back those classic days while on the surface incorporating RPG elements to craft an interesting twist on the formula. It’s set in a future where a catastrophic event, centuries ago, froze the planet in a state of partial disintegration as gravitational anomalies stopped the planet from either falling apart or combining again into a whole. Now with humanity forced to live in the skies, private corporations have turned into totalitarian states who now battle over the few remaining resources. Into this world, you’re thrown as you join one of the few nomadic communities and join the fight to collect the resources required to maintain your community.
Spread out over 100 levels there is certainly plenty to see with players getting a choice of 3 ships and around 70 different abilities to equip them. However unlike traditional shoot-em up’s you don’t collect power ups during missions but instead loot, which can between missions be turned into new abilities and weapons for your craft. Should you however get blown up before the end of the mission you will lose all your loot, though the game does come with an option to bail out if things are getting too heated allowing you to retain any loot you have collected at this
Using 3D models on a 2D background the game certainly comes with a lot of polish to its old school framework. The gameplay looking fantastic as enemies fly from the background while coming at you in continual waves whose difficulty increases as you progress through the game, though in the early levels the action can certainly feel frenzied enough as you weave around the screen trying to avoid being blown up in the hail of bullets being continuously rained down on your little ship. Certainly this brings back memories of Axelay for the SNES or Project X for the Amiga, and this heavily-styled shooter is stunning to look at with the main gameplay kept simple enough to just pick up and play.
The plot is interesting though really doesn’t add much to the main action in the game other than finding a way to tie together the RPG elements of the game. Chances are though that you will skip over it to get to the next level but having it there keeps things together for those who want something deeper to go with the old school gameplay.
Certainly Drifting Lands comes with a lot of interesting ideas to try and rework the shoot-em up genre and while they might not always work it’s enjoyable enough to enjoy for the core game play, especially with Shoot-em up’s being something of a rarity. It’s always nice to see a new one, especially when it looks as pretty as this one.
Game description: Drifting Lands, developed by Alkemi, is a shoot 'em up RPG. It comes with customization for the ships, different modes to start with and different crafts for three levels of difficulty levels.