Drainus (Switch) Review
The player has the freedom to experiment with numerous power-ups that can be switched at any time
Using a shield to absorb attacks and unleash them back at enemies is brilliant and always awesome
The 2D pixel art is the reason why this game plays so smoothly
The tutorial perfectly bleeds right into the campaign – very well done
Tons of customization options create a user-friendly experience with an intuitive UI
Snagging optional disks is a great way to load backstory but sometimes they are hidden in paths that require trial-and-error
Load times are a little long
No leaderboard system to track your best scores or multiplayer features
Developed by Team Ladybug, makers of the excellent Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth, and published by Playism, Drainus is a shooter that is not a bullethell – it is a bulletheaven. In short, this is an outstanding 2D shmup, one that I have not had this much fun with since Ikaruga and its black and white polarity system.
The gimmick behind Drainus is the shield absorbing mechanic. Holding the main attack button will unleash a machinegun barrage of bullets but the finesse comes from the defensive system. When activated, all purple attacks (lasers, bullets, electrical currents, etc), regardless of size and strength, can be absorbed for a limited time. When this defense button is released, it immediately unleashes a powerful attack back at the enemy including bosses. This defensive system is awesome and makes defense just as much fun as going on the offensive.
There are also tons of weapon options available. Although you need to collect certain power-ups to unlock extra guns/shields/special attacks, unlocking points are collected almost every minute during the campaign. Then, the player can change the loadout at any time by pausing the game too. With so many gunplay options available, it will take numerous play throughs to see it all.
Since this is a Team Ladybug game, the 2D pixel art and animation is amazing which is no surprise. The UI is also clean, intuitive, and very user friendly. Since the player has access to so many weapon alternatives, the menu system encourages experimentation with snappy results.
Even the opening tutorial is well designed. Not only does it quickly teach the player about these critical gameplay elements, the end of the tutorial merges immediately into the campaign and narrative. There are also a few difficulty settings but the Normal setting was near perfect in terms of tough-but-fair challenge. The good news is, there is a lenient checkpoint system so players do not need to replay entire stages if you die during that boss battle while you are still trying to learn its patterns. Additionally, the menu screen is loaded with quality-of-life options including one that let’s the player toggle the ship’s bumpers, meaning you won’t take damage if you bump into the border of the stage. Thoughtful design all the way around.
Drainus is easily one of the best shmups I have played in a long time. The defensive energy absorbing system works so well, it is a wonder why other shooters have yet to adopt such a gameplay technique. But the reason why this weapon system is so fun is thanks to the level design, fun boss fights, and enemy types that gives the player an excuse to use all the tools available. Although skippable, the story is also well done and optional collectable discs flesh out the backstory. There is so much quality here that you need to put this on your wishlist whether you like shooters or not.
It is also available on Steam.
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By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
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