2D space shooters may be as common as blades of glass, but you’re bound to find some doozies. DreadStar: The Quest for Revenge doesn’t really pull off any fancy tricks or original ideas to help it stand out from the pack like the aforementioned doozies, but it’s still a pretty good shmup that’s worth the asking price.
After your dad is killed by space pirates, you sign up to be a space mercenary in hopes of blasting any galactic ne’er-do-wells you come across, all the while keeping your wallet filled up. Straight off the bat, you’ll be impressed by its detailed pixel art, especially during the cutscenes. It’s got a lively and rich chiptune soundtrack (its main theme is a jam!), and the compressed sound effects that accompany the action are always satisfying. The controls are responsible and smooth on both the keyboard and a controller.
Once you delve into a zone, you must navigate through waves of enemies, each with their own distinctive movement and attack patterns. It’s a bullet hell game with a capital ‘H’, and it seldom gives you a break to breathe before the next battalion appears. Same goes with the bosses as well – some of them mix things up once they soak up a certain amount of damage. Otherwise, the difficulty does gradually increase at a fair pace, though less experienced players will likely struggle from the first mission.
There’s no health bar in this one – if you get hit, you lose an armour point, and when they’re all gone, you’ll have to load back to your previous save. The good thing is that you can warp out of a level, regardless of whatever state your ship is in, and can keep the gems you’ve earned as you make your way to the shop to buy repairs. It reminds me of games like Raptor: Call of the Shadows in that regard, the only difference being that repairs are a bit more affordable. It makes getting back in the swing of things a lot quicker and less stressful, but forking out cash can still set you back a fair bit.
An interesting feature is that you can increase the XP you gain and the drop rate of treasures. If you’re after a tougher experience, you might want to leave these be. Dropping them below average makes levelling up and hoarding cash even more of a time-sucking chore than it is already. You need to fork out some serious moolah if you want to increase your spacecraft. Still, dying won’t reset your XP bar, and you can upgrade your primary and side weapons alongside your shield bit by bit.
A big stash of guns, shields and armour can be purchased from the shop. Again, earning enough treasure to buy them is a lengthy task, but the upgrades are no doubt life-savers, and the weapons are destructive and deadly. Once you get a few under your belt, it’s quite fun to mix and match them to see which combination works best for you. They can be attached to the left or right side of your ship, though they will overheat if overused. Either can be fired in conjunction to your main weapon, which can even be swapped out as well. No need to use the standard blaster as your main squeeze!
Alas, there’s nothing on offer that really helps the game stand out from other games in the genre – it pays tribute to the classics to the tooth and nail, but you won’t really find any other features that’ll help it stand apart. Does that mean it’s bad? Not in the slightest. Even though raking in cash is still a lengthy, cumbersome task, it’s still a polished, challenging and enjoyable shmup. Chances are that if you’re a big fan of these kinds of games, you certain’t won’t dread it.
Review code supplied by developer.