Drifting Lands Early Access Review

by | Feb 11, 2017

Early Access Isn’t the Final Frontier

Surprisingly, combining a space shoot-’em-up with Diablo-like loot mechanics makes for a decent game, especially when the graphics and soundtrack are some of the best in the genre.  But like most loot-driven games, Drifting Lands is quite repetitive and its only reward is more firepower to do more of the same. It also doesn’t help that the levels are randomly generated.

That said, I can easily recommend Drifting Lands, even in its current Early Access state.

Drifting Lands
Steam Page
Developer:
Alkemi
Publisher:
Alkemi
Release:
January 24, 2017
Price:
$13.99
Rig:
Intel i7-3930K @ 3.20GHz
32GB RAM
EVGA GTX 980

Running at a smooth framerate of at least 60FPS, Drifting Lands is easily the best-looking space shooter I’ve ever played. The animated backgrounds really pop without distracting from the action happening in front of them, and most are quite easy on the eyes such as one level that features tornadoes. The ships themselves are a bit more imaginative than the average for the genre but are nothing to write home about. In my time with the game (three hours) I only came across a handful of enemies which populated the randomly generated and thus repetitive levels.

Before diving into the game, players will be tasked with selecting one of three different types of ships, each with its own abilities and stats. Ships can be upgraded with loot collected from destroyed enemies during levels, as well as from an in-game store which thankfully doesn’t have microtransactions. The developers themselves have stated they are against such practices and they only consider DLC if it’s something closer to an expansion, so no worries there. The ship building aspect of the game adds some depth to what is an otherwise tired genre, which makes Drifting Lands feel fresh and new.

This loot aspect can also lead to a grind, as levels are increasingly more difficult, and you will certainly have to upgrade your ship to be able to survive them. The grind isn’t so bad at first, but within three hours I found myself redoing easier levels over and over just to be able to afford to upgrade my stats which allowed me to equip better loot. Some people don’t mind grinding, but I’m not one of them.

That said, I did quite enjoy upgrading my ship and unlocking new abilities. Six abilities can be equipped at a time, four cooldown abilities, and two passive abilities. Abilities range from attacks to heals to defense; having a nice balance of them is important. Passive abilities are things like granting extra money for killstreaks, boosted stats, or the ability to keep your ship when you die; as you’d otherwise lose it. Which means there are some risks to dying in this game, however, I played with the ability turned on so I’d never lose my ship because that is the sane thing to do.

One issue with the abilities, however, is that the only indicator of whether or not they are available to use is at the bottom of the screen in a similar fashion to MOBAs or MMOS. This would be fine if many levels aren’t essentially bullethells that require utmost focus, meaning looking away to see abilities is improbable. If the developers added some way to see when abilities are ready that say appeared next to the ship, that would be preferable.

Drifting Lands is easily the best-looking space shooter I’ve ever played”

Drifting Lands isn’t without its flaws, but thankfully there is time to fix them while in Early Access. I can easily still recommend the game to those that don’t mind a bit of a grind and enjoy space shooters. I’ll certainly be checking it out again once the game is out of Early Access myself.

Worth Your Money: NOW!

[A copy of the game was provided by the developer or publisher for the purpose of this review.]

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