Drifting Lands – Review
Follow Genre: Shoot 'em up / ARPG
Developer: Alkemi
Publisher: Alkemi
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Drifting Lands – Review

Site Score
7.2
Good: A lot of customization options to fit you playstyle
Bad: Feels a bit grindy after a while
User Score
7.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Drifting Lands is an interesting combination of a side-scrolling shoot ’em up, with RPG-style leveling and skill mechanics. This combination adds a lot of interest to the classic scrolling shooter genre, and an ARPG style skill & equipment system fits really well combined with bullet-hell shoot ’em up gameplay. This game has been developed and published, on June 5th, by the French indie game developer Alkemi, and is available via Steam. 

drifting lands logo

Story

Drifting Lands takes place in a future where pretty much everything is destroyed, and only men and machines are left in between floating landmasses, battling each other. You are one of the pilots fighting for humanity from a huge flying base. The story is being told via cut-scenes in between missions, and via conversations you can click through as the story progresses.  The story is pretty simple but extensive enough for a side scrolling shooter like this.

Graphics

The graphics are colorful and cartoon-ish; the style feels similar to the colorful arcade style most side scrolling shooters are in, but the choice for drawn and painted graphics makes the game visually interesting. While the ships are 3D, the backgrounds are 2D layered. The cut-scenes and conversations have a good, light and relaxed look, but during gameplay the screen is littered with enemies and bullets like expected in games like this, with a cartoon background. The UI is neat and clear.

drifting lands screen 1

Sound

The sound effects are typical for a horizontal scrolling shooter; lots of ‘pew-pew’ and explosions. The background music consists of rather chillaxed electronic rock tunes, many different tracks. The soundtrack is pretty good; it’s sold separately via Steam. The in-game conversations aren’t narrated.

Gameplay

Drifting Lands is a horizontal scrolling shoot ’em up, combined with ARPG-style skills & gear upgrading. The gameplay is rather similar to any side-scrolling space shooter: shoot enemies and dodge bullets. However, in this game you can customize your ship’s skills and equipment completely, using an RPG-style system with loot, stats, an equipment shop and skill-trees.

Playing the game you’ll get a bit of story and conversation to click through, and then you’ll be able to choose from several missions in the command center of your base. The missions are simple: shoot anything that moves, catch the items that drop, dodge ships and bullets while spamming your skills and shooting continuously. After the mission you’ll automatically return to base. In the base you can choose skills and gear, reminiscent of an RPG. During the missions you’ll pick up armor, health, credits, and gear. In the hangar you can sell or equip this gear, and equip new skills you’ll gain by leveling. These skills all have a skill tree. You got four active and two passive skills to use. these can be dodge, deflect, damage, etc. Try to use your skills strategically whenever they are not on cooldown. The cooldowns are dependent on your stats, mainly the base-stat ‘power’.

drifting lands screen 4

The customization is pretty extensive for a shooter. at the start of the game you can choose between 3 ‘classes’, high damage, high armor or balanced. After that you’ll be able to level up your basic stats (power, navigation & structure), and besides that, you can equip various gear which modify your stats (raise some, lower others), but being able to equip something is also dependent on your base stats. It’s an interesting system, where you really have to think about the optimal combinations of items you’ll equip, match them with the skills you like best, to make a build which perfectly fits your play style. You’ll be able to choose from different guns, shields, armor plating, thrusters, energy cells, etc. There’s not much info on the weapons however, apart from the description. The best way to find out how fast it fires, what firing pattern and how damaging the bullets are is just equipping it and see what happens as you go with it. There’s no way to change weapons when you are flying a mission, but you can abort at any time. As long as you are not dead, retreating is at no extra cost. Being killed returns you to base at the cost of some money and all the loot you had in cargo. There’s also a crafting system, where you can turn items into blueprints, so you can make more of an item. This is pretty expensive, but might be a good move to do frequently, so you can make back-ups in case good gear gets destroyed.

There are a lot of enemy types with their own unique patterns, but after a while you’ve seen them all and they just repeat endlessly. There are also several bosses you encounter in missions. The bosses are pretty hard to fight, and every now and then you’ll need to repeat missions to be able to buy better upgrades in order to beat bosses or the more tricky missions. The missions are pretty short so you’ll finish repeated runs pretty fast, but it does feel a bit repetitive, like the typical RPG-style grinding for better gear, despite the fact that the missions are generated randomly. Having the best gear is important, and since there’s so many different items to mix and match but usually one certain type of item is your favorite, it can take a while to complete a perfect set-up for your playing style.

drifting lands screen 3

There are two different game modes: normal mode and forgiving mode. In normal mode you can lose your gear: your equipment gets broken and you lose it forever. This is pretty nasty sometimes if you have no good alternatives left in the hangar, especially when you’re on the losing side of a boss battle and you happen to lose your awesome gun, or your best armor plating. In forgiving mode nothing gets lost and you’ll be able to repair gear after a failed mission. It is possible to abort a mission before you’ll get destroyed by the enemies, but you’ll have to decide quickly and there’s still a short time period you’ll have to survive before you’ll be able to escape. If you abort you’ll get to keep any gear you picked up during that mission, but you’ll need to start that mission over from the beginning in order to complete it and to progress.

Conclusion

Drifting Lands is a typical side-scrolling shooter with nice artwork and a good soundtrack. The story is well done for a shooter like this. The RPG-style equipment-system and skill-trees are a nice addition to the genre. This is a good title to pick up for people who like side-scrolling shooters and don’t mind a bit of grinding.

drifting lands screen 2

 

 

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Rating: 7.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Drifting Lands - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Anmaja
Anmaja


I'm a LARP writer, freelance teacher and everlasting PhD student, and an avid gamer. Nowadays I game mostly on PC, but I love my retro playstation 1 & 2 as well :) I like watching anime, movies and series, and read books & comics whenever I have time!

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