Drifting Lands Review
Drifting Lands is a hybrid of sidescrolling shoot-em-up action, roguelite mechanics, and ARPG looting. It’s basically everything I’ve ever wanted in a game around this very affordable price range, and I’m happy to say that Alkemi hasn’t let me down in the slightest.
You’ll start out by picking your type of ship from one of three classes. It’s your typical fast and weak, slow but sturdy, or somewhere in the middle type of selection. From here, you’ll be taking to the skies and destroying as many enemies as possible to gain items and credits, all while dodging ships and projectiles. It’s a simple concept that’s been done before, but there’s so much more going on in the background this time.
Credits are used to purchase new items, upgrade stats, buy new ships, or acquire new skills. Skills come in a wide variety, featuring some classic bullet hell powerups like a protective shield or time slow. You get four active slots and two passive, giving players an absolute ton of customization. You can truly play drifting lands just about however you want, making it an absolute blast. Want to just have shields and repair kits while you fill the screen with projectiles? Do it. Want to make a super tank that gets within melee range and tears enemies apart with a frontal attack and fire ring? Go right ahead.
“Simply put, the better you do, the more credits you’ll earn, the faster you’ll become a flying harbinger of death.”
I personally opted for a bit of everything while piloting the light ship. There were a few deaths, but thankfully, like many ARPGs, you’re given two options when you start: hardcore mode and a more forgiving mode. What’s nice is the more forgiving mode basically just gives you a passive ability that lets you retreat instead of crashing when you die, and you can actually swap this out at any point if you so choose. Getting cocky and want to up the risk vs reward? Be my guest, but don’t cry when your ship needs repairs and you’re all out of funds.
Simply put, the better you do, the more credits you’ll earn, the faster you’ll become a flying harbinger of death. You do have to make progress through the missions to unlock the next stage of ships or skills, but you can always grind easier missions to boost stats before moving forward. These improve health, shields, main weapon damage, and skill efficiency. They reset when you move to the next ship though, so be careful when making the upgrade.
Missions themselves are decent, with a fair amount of enemy variety and pattern variety that improves as you advance. These are procedurally generated to a degree as well, so grinding earlier missions doesn’t feel like such a chore. Everything is also level ranked, so you’ll have a good idea of how tough a mission will be before jumping into the thick of it. There are also plenty to complete, with many being optional and some of the more challenging ones being purely for honor, giving you no rewards but putting your name on a leaderboard instead.
As much as this is basically my holy grail, it certainly has flaws. For instance, I don’t see the point in not giving rewards for the leaderboard missions. It’s a bit of an outdated concept and I’d love to see it scrapped. Another issue is regarding the different weapon types; there’s simply not any good way to see how they work unless you equip it and jump into a fight. Considering you can retreat, it’s not the end of the world, but even a little gif of how projectiles launch for that type when you hover over it would have helped a lot more than the quick descriptor. You’ll figure them all out eventually, but a few missions were much harder the moment I realized how a dual gatling gun actually worked.
“The ships themselves and all of the skills used look great, just try not to lose track of yourself among the chaos that is sure to ensue.”
Another big problem for me was the story. It’s interesting enough, but I really couldn’t get into reading through all of the exposition and dialogue during scenes. A lot of it could have been trimmed down, but it’s all somewhat skippable. All you really need to know at the end of the day is the other ships on screen are the enemies, and they all must be destroyed.
Visually, Drifting Lands looks great. The cutscenes all have nicely drawn characters and backgrounds the fit the style so nothing seems out of place. Some projectiles during combat are a bit hard to notice at times, however since you have shields and can take a few shots before dying, it’s not the end of the world. Just make sure to pay attention and you should be fine. The ships themselves and all of the skills used look great, just try not to lose track of yourself among the chaos that is sure to ensue.
Overall, if you’re a fan of looting, shooting, and scooting, I can’t recommend Drifting Lands enough. It’s an absolute blast to play, has a ton of content, and comes in at a very inexpensive price point that should make any miser feel like they’ve gotten their money’s worth. Do yourself a favor and pick it up if you like sidescrollers, ARPGs, and roguelites.
***A PC code was provided by the publisher***
- Combat is fun
- Upgrading feels great
- Lots of customization
- Leaderboard missions give no rewards
- Story is forgettable