Do you like bending the laws of space and time while shooting stuff in space? I sure do and was very interested in the concept of Dimension Drive when it was brought to my attention.
Developed by 2Awesome Studio, the game is part of the shoot’em up genre, similar to R-Type and Gradius. For those unaware, those games revolved around you controlling a single ship against waves of foes with tons of bullets everywhere. They were very popular in 80s arcades. Through a second Kickstarter in 2015 — after a failed attempt — 2Awesome Studio raised $42,000 with the help of nearly 1200 backers.
The story follows Jackelyne Tywood (a.k.a. Jack), the last survivor of her race as a result of another race called the Ashajuls rising to power. Luckily, she was put inside a ship called The Manticore in order to escape. With The Manticore being the only thing able to stand up against the Ashajuls due to the Dimension Drive capability, Jack must fight alongside her A.I. guardian, V.E.R.A, in order to drive back the Ashajuls. The story is told mostly through still images and has a bit of a comic book style. The alpha never really goes too much into the story, which is fine for now. What is amusing is that sometimes after losing a life, both V.E.R.A and Jack talk to one another, sometimes showing determination or cracking jokes.
Gameplay is interesting. As opposed to being a single space, the screen is divided into two. Both screens might seem like they feature the same thing, but they do not. The overall layout of obstacles, enemy placement, power-ups — almost everything — differs. This includes attack patterns, so the need to switch to strike at a boss is important in order to quickly gain an advantage.
Of course, things are not so easy. You have a limited number of times you can shoot while on each screen. By switching screens, you can get more ammo on each side. Once again, another part of the challenge presents itself due to different layouts of each area. So, while you might switch to another screen, you could potentially crash your ship right into some asteroids or other obstacles, or even spawn on top of them and die instantly. This can work another way, however, as switching screens can help you get power-ups.
If you ever feel the speed is too fast or you want to get that pesky ship you missed to blow up, there is an inverted mode you can trigger that will slow down ship speed and allow you to attack enemies from behind. This is especially handy in stages where you need to hit switches in order to progress. It is also useful as the game has a point system. As long as you are not hit, you can keep chaining points from defeated foes to get a higher score. Based on the website for the game, however, this is mainly for the leaderboards.
The greatest challenge is balancing all of this. But it is possible — especially with the checkpoints throughout the game. This is certainly a game that will require a bit of practice, but the controls are responsive and the gameplay remains fun despite the frustration at times.
The normal mode has plenty of challenges, but hard mode makes things even more difficult. For starters, you start off with zero shield power, meaning even a single shot is enough to kill you. You can still collect power-ups, including the shield, but it only lasts for a single hit and you cannot stack the shields. Combine all of this with trying to adjust to the playstyle of the game, and hard mode is definitely a strong challenge.
Of course, the game is still in alpha, and some glitches need to be ironed out. In one instance, a boss just seemingly stopped moving after several times of me losing to it. Then again, it could have just given up in pity. Other than that, Dimension Drive is a game you should definitely look forward to once it’s complete!
Dimension Drive is set for release in 2016 — with no exact date just yet — on PC, Mac, and Linux. It is available for pre-order for $11.99, or you can gain early access and get your name in the credits for $25. All of this can be found on their website here.