Pilots of Darsalon – Review
Follow Genre: Arcade, Action, Shooter
Developer: Dr. Kucho! Games
Publisher: Dr. Kucho! Games
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Pilots of Darsalon – Review

Site Score
7.2
Good: Nostalgic, Not complicated
Bad: Uninventive gameplay, Short
User Score
9.3
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)

Tired of 2020? Why not take a tiny spaceship and fly back to the ’80s? DJ and sole creator Dr. Kucho! brings back nostalgic memories with his retro arcade game Pilots of Darsalon. The game is inspired by well-known classics such as Thrust, Gravitar, Lunar Lander, and Solar Jetman for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) but with a strong Commodore 64 feel to it.

Story

The game is not greatly story-driven. Deducing from the gameplay, you play as a pilot who flies a spaceship, navigating through the trees and mountains of planet Darsalon. Your job is to locate and transport containers to the base safely, avoiding enemies on the way. The ship is equipped with laser beams to shoot, a shield to protect the ship, and a beamer to beam up containers and fuel you find along the way.

Graphics

If you’re old enough, you might remember the ‘80s, playing games on a Commodore 64 or a NES. Back when the games were in 2D and 8-bit. Pixelated, flat, and block-ish. That’s what Pilots of Darsalon is trying to simulate. And quite succeeding at that too!

Of course, the game doesn’t look exactly like those beloved classics, but it gets fairly close. And it definitely achieves to bring back all those nostalgic feelings with the old-school retro 8-bit sound and graphics by using a C64 color palette and a CRT filter. The game also uses a unique pixel-art render pipeline that consistently combines dynamic lightning, 2D sprites, and 3D models. Dr. Kucho! tried his best to create a similar authentic art-style. And we are here for it.

Sound

Pilots of Darsalon has this great Sci-Fi, spacey synth music that fits perfectly with the game. The 8-bit sound FX’s are also very fitting. But there could have been more variety in the music that we constantly hear throughout the game. After a while, it starts to get repetitive, borderline annoying.

Gameplay

Pilots of Darsalon is a physics-driven action shooter where you navigate a small spaceship through maze-like levels. Stage to stage. Throughout the level, the spaceship has to pick up fuel and shoot down enemies, all the while carrying a container to the end of the stage. The whole intention here is to keep the spaceship and the container in one piece and get them from point A to point B safely with little to no damage.

Like a traditional arcade game, you start on the menu screen where you can change many things such as the options, start a new game, or continue on where you left off.

There are quite many options offered for such a small indie game. Next to choosing the difficulty level, you can choose your own nickname, choose the controls between keyboard and controller, change the music and FX volume, and you can even change the pixel zoom, CTR filter, and resolution of the game. Some triple-A games don’t even have such a broad choice which makes the options menu quite impressive.

Pilots of Darsalon isn’t that complicated when you get the controls down – even though this could take a few tries. But surely don’t underestimate the levels. The game is not just blindly flying around and shooting up enemies until they explode. There are a few criteria you have to keep an eye on if you want to successfully complete the stage. There are four things to look out for: ship, fuel, cargo, and ammo. Each one is shown with a kind of health bar. Once one of the bars is empty, you’re done for. So try to keep the bars full by picking up enough fuel and try to avoid damage as much as possible. 

The game also has a nice feature of keeping track of your impressive gameplay by keeping your hi-score. This enables you to compare your score with others on the online world leaderboard. Always fun to see how other players are doing compared to you, right?

Conclusion

Pilots of Darsalon is a nice time-killer that challenges your agility and focus. It’s definitely fun if you like to beat other’s high scores or of your own self. The game also brings back good nostalgic feelings of old-school retro games with its on-point art-style and sound. Sadly, the game is quite short and get repetitive.

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Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)
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Pilots of Darsalon – Review, 9.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
JenRox
JenRox


“Keep your friends close, but your memes even closer”.

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