After kindly being supplied with a code for Nova Drift by the developers, I was a bit unsure what to expect – It dubs itself “A Roguelite space shooter which melds a classic arcade experience with modern action-RPG elements.” that is currently in full active development – As many of you know who follow me on Twitch and Twitter, I have been playing this top-down game a lot since the new year and there are some very good reasons for this.
Before we get into the things I like about this game, I think its best I show you what the game is actually about!
Every time you load into Nova Drift, you are put in the middle of space as a standard ship with standard weaponry – slowly but surely, the first dangers approach – a few meteorites and then a few basic enemy ships that are easily dispatched with a couple of hits. Suddenly, you levelled up and the game asks you to make your first decision – it will pick three random unlocked weapons (out of a current potential 10) to let you choose between and then you can carry on killing and levelling up.
The great thing is, the choice isn’t necessarily permanent for this play-through so don’t fret too much if you are not a massive fan of any of the options – Eg, I once got Railgun (I suck at aiming), Vortex (a weapon I tried and didn’t get on with, but plan on trying again soon) and Pulse… a very close range PBAOE attack, which I thought would be dreadful (more on that later!)
A short while later, and you level up again, this time to pick one of three random shields (out of a current potential 8) and again a bit later for Ship type (out of a current potential 12). All sounding pretty straight forward so far? Well… the fourth time you level is when things really kick up a notch! You will be given the choice between seven upgrades (a mixture of weapon, shield, thrusters and other miscellaneous upgrades) and there are literally hundreds it can pick between, and some have pre-requirements for appearing (eg previous upgrades) so it will constantly change as you play! Not only that, but you can choose to forgo an upgrade to instead change one of your initial choices, with a random Weapon, Shield and Ship to pick if you prefer!
The game progressively gets harder and faster – more and more enemies of varying amounts and difficulty appearing with insane bosses that are almost on the old Bullethell arcade games level in terms of how much you have to dodge, accompanied by beautiful and varying backgrounds as you soar past planets, stars and even getting sucked into the occasional black hole.
After every game, your score is converted into XP, which then unlocks even more upgrades for future matches you play of this game, which often ends with me staying up really late saying to myself “ooh that looks interesting, let’s have one more game to see if I can try it out”
The matches are relatively short. I am a parent, I have a 5-month-old baby and often have to stop playing at any time with very little warning. A game like this that has you reset to the start every time you die or load the game can often by a nightmare for me, but the games are short enough that I don’t feel like I’m being punished for leaving and coming back later
In fact, restarting is actually kinda fun – you never know what kind of build you will end up with! At first, I was always trying the drone and ally based builds, but one match I got unlucky and wasn’t getting any upgrades that I would usually pick… I ended up with the previously mentioned Pulse, a shield called Halo which causes damage to any enemies inside its radius, and Hullbreaker ship – which deals damage by flying into enemies head-on. It was insanely fun! No more flying away from enemies and shooting them at a distance, I was going straight for them – dealing constant passive damage to anyone who was anywhere near me (with upgrades causing the radius of the shield to be a lot larger), with my pulse now hitting three times every time I attacked, dealing good spike damage to more beefier enemies and usually finishing enemies off by flying headfirst into them!
Another time, I ended up with a ship called the Firefly (A really quick ship), loads of thruster upgrades to increase my ships speed and an upgrade that increased my damage based on how fast I was flying! Granted, I didn’t survive very long, but it was one of the most insanely hilarious few minutes I have had in any game for a long time!
The more I play this game, the more I fall in love with it and the more upgrades I unlock, the more insane builds I end up being able to come up with. I honestly am really looking forward to seeing how this game ends up when it has its full release.