Established in 2009, developer Alkemi began developing a puzzle shooting game which saw conflict arise and a legal battle take place delaying their project for 4 years. The birth of Drifting Lands was partly the re-branding of their previous game and the re-engineering of game mechanics into a puzzle filled space battle, with loot! While the game has similarities to Diablo, I would refer to it more as a cool and challenging version of Galaga with an loot hunting component.
My first stop off after launching Drifting Lands was to go through the game settings. I made some initial adjustments to my keybindings assuming ye o’l WASD was the best settings for this game; boy was I wrong. To cover this off right away, I recommend playing this game with a controller, or use the default keybindings for your keyboard if you don’t have one. It only took a short time for me to get use to the bindings, however it felt a little strange that there wasn’t a mouse components to controlling your ship.
Not to sound like a broken recorded given I mentioned this in my previous review, but the introduction to this game was a little boring. You’re a somebody aboard this ship, and you’re approached to be a fighter pilot by a guy named Thor. Susan on the other hand doesn’t trust you (Susan pls). Thor, however, wants you to prove your worth. So they buckle you up into one of their space fighters and launch you into your first battle. I found the approach to introducing this game bleak. My first taste of battle, however, had me hooked to the games amazing visuals and challenge.
The initial battle, even though it’s more of a guide, clearly sets the scene for the game straight away. It looks pretty, you’re not over babied regarding the game controls, and you’re more or less free to learn how to play once you’re guided through the basics. I cant say this enough, I love games that let you learn how to play them. One small thing I found frustrating, however, is at the end of every mission, if you unlock a new tip, a very annoying explanation display appears in the center of your screen and there’s no way to get rid of it until the animation for it completes. When you’re just starting out, having a lot of these appear in rapid succession is frustrating because you want to just get back out and battle!
As mentioned above, the one thing that lacked in this game above all else was the storytelling. As the game progressed I found myself skim-reading the text because I had little control over my characters answers, if he even had a chance to answer. You spend quite a bit of time in the storytelling aspect of this game just being spoken at. I would have loved if the game allowed us to comment back in our own way. I feel like that would have made experiencing the story being told more immersive.
“The effort put into making this game fun, but also pretty as hell needs to be recognised.”
The detail in the art of this game is astounding. The effort put into making this game fun, but also pretty as hell needs to be recognised. It is a lot of fun fighting through a field of enemy fire whilst also taking in the effort put into every brush stroke visible in the game. While this might sound distracting, the detailed art added to the immersion of the immersion of the battles.
The looting system in the game is also a highlight. Anyone big on min maxing and leader-boards will enjoy this game. From the get-go, you’re made to feel like you’re earning your loot, and much like when I found my first legendary in Diablo 3, finding your first unique in Drifting Lands is just as rewarding. You feel stronger as you work to collect better gear which makes you feel like you’re earning your progression as the game throws harder and harder challenges at you.
The stats on the items are easy to understand and well thought out as well. The uniques have a challenging twist with the addition of a Flaw to throw a spanner into the works. I like the detail put into the equipment because the work and effort put into the game strategising your approach to beating a level feels rewarding when you achieve the win and get great loot as well.
There were some frame skipping issues throughout my time playing which left me somewhat frustrated. I found that I would die during critical moments due to this issue, which forced me to repeat levels again to clear them which I didn’t like doing if I didn’t have to! It made my progress through the game a little stagnated. Hopefully an optimisation patch is not far away.
Get ready to fight for your survival and scavenge for the highest bidder
Drifiting Lands is an exciting action-packed game with a lot of depth to the challenges it presents its players. The storytelling side is a little weak, and I believe some work on the immersion aspect of that could improve it dramatically. The puzzles, however, are fast paced and challenging, the skill sets you get allow for a number of awesome combos and it’s pretty as hell. 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.