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Drifting Lands Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Drifting Lands is a fun arcade-style shooter that almost lives up to its potential. I love the role-playing elements, the lengthy adventure and how many abilities you can equip. I think this is a sharp looking shooter with moments that are occasionally exciting. This is a good game. But it's the repetitive level designs and bland missions that ultimately keep Drifting Lands from being a great game. I hope developer Alkemi has a chance to take another stab at this concept, because they have something special here. Rating: 71%
Drifting Lands
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  • Review Score:

  • B
The knock against old school 2D shoot-em-ups is that they aren't very deep. You fly around space for about a half hour, take down a few giant bosses, watch a wholly unsatisfying ending and then do the whole thing over again in the same exact order. This isn't a genre that needs a lengthy tutorial to play, because the whole goal is usually to dodge bullets and shoot down aliens. Hell, most people don't even pay attention to the story. Most shooters really are as basic as you can get, and yet there's something about them I can't get enough of.

Drifting Lands is not your typical arcade shoot-em-up. Where most games are short and simple, this one offers dozens of hours of action-packed fun, complete with a hundred stages, several ships, all kinds of weapons and a level of customization you rarely see outside of a role-playing game. This is a long and involving adventure that takes the best elements of old school shooters and throws in just enough depth to silence the critics.


In some ways, Drifting Lands is like all other 2D shoot-em-ups. You fly from left to right avoiding enemy fire and shooting down entire fleets of aliens. Every so often, you'll come across a boss that requires more precision and patience to overcome. If you're able to survive the onslaught, you'll open up a bunch of new stages and continue you're fight. It's a loop that will be instantly familiar to pretty much every old school gamer.

What sets this game apart is that you're doing a lot more than shooting down enemies, because this is about picking up loot and customizing your ship in all kinds of interesting ways. In that sense, Drifting Lands is the Diablo III of space shoot-em-ups. There's a massive emphasis on replaying stages in order to gather up new shields, weapons, computer boards and other parts you can equip to your craft. What you don't need you can sell at the shop, which also offers brand new equipment you can buy at a premium price.

Beyond simply picking up loot, we're also able to assign a whole slew of special attacks and abilities to the controller's four face buttons. This will give you access to bombs and much stronger bullets, along with the ability to heal the ship and teleport around the level. We're also able to assign more passive perks that will let you regenerate your ship after a defeat or earn more money for performing combos. The game has a bunch of these attacks and abilities opened right at the start, but you'll need to spend hours beating up bosses and saving money in order to buy more. This is on top of all the weapons you can equip to your ship.

Of course, none of this would matter with only a handful of stages. In order to get the most out of the role-playing elements, you want a game with a lot of content. Thankfully, Drifting Lands delivers in a big way. This is a long game with a hundred stages that range in both difficulty and length. You travel around the world meeting new types of aliens and killing a wide range of bosses. There are also special challenge stages that will limit the abilities you can use, as well as multi-part wild hunt levels that are designed for people looking for rare loot.

Drifting Lands (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Unfortunately, there is a trade-off for having so many levels. The advantage of a much shorter game is that every stage felt unique with an attention to detail. For example, I'll never forget the caves in R-Type or the first stage in Thunder Force III. But Drifting Lands ends up throwing waves of enemies over only a handful of backgrounds. Don't get me wrong, the visuals are gorgeous, especially when they play with lighting effects, but you'll see them repeated a lot over the course of the game. In that sense, none of the stages left the same kind of impact as what was in Gradius or even Darius.

This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. The repetition ended up getting to me after a while, especially when I was stuck in parts of the game where grinding for loot and money was the only solution. Part of what makes the best arcade shooters so memorable is that they would occasionally throw in a labyrinth to navigate or a lava-spewing volcano to dodge. By comparison, the stages in Drifting Lands are bland and boring. It's just waves of alien ships followed by a slightly more impressive boss. For a game this long and involved, I was disappointed that there wasn't more variety in both the backgrounds and missions.

Drifting Lands is a fun arcade-style shooter that almost lives up to its potential. I love the role-playing elements, the lengthy adventure and how many abilities you can equip. I think this is a sharp looking shooter with moments that are occasionally exciting. This is a good game. But it's the repetitive level designs and bland missions that ultimately keep Drifting Lands from being a great game. I hope developer Alkemi has a chance to take another stab at this concept, because they have something special here.
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