Driftmoon – Review

Driftmoon

developed by Instant Kingdom

Alright, so you bought yourself Diablo 3, yearning for another adventure through Tristram.  You played some of the game, hesitantly accepted the technical problems and countless glitches, but finally realized that you had been bamboozled once again by a big name developer and its insidious, unscrupulous publisher and their questionable business practices.  Don’t worry, you are not alone.

What you need is a hearty adventure, filled with mystery, exploration, puzzles, and humor. You want the promise of a game that will draw you into its world, engrossing you in its gameplay. One which will make you feel young again and allow you to utilize your underused imagination.  I know of one such game…  a game that will appeal to anyone who remembers what Fantasy is all about.

Driftmoon is that game and it is also a world in which you will be swallowed whole.

Story:
You begin Driftmoon by choosing a name for your nameless protagonist. In my case, my hero was aptly named Delber Dingleberry. Like most great adventures, the story starts with our hero returning home after a brief reprieve from his life in a small town. Your father had sent you a mysterious letter urging you to come home and mentioning something about an odd amulet he gave you when you were younger. Upon returning home, no sooner are you greeted by the towns most famous hatmaker, but while standing near the town entrance your mother comes running toward you urging you to hide quickly, right before she pushes you down a dark old water well.

That’s just the beginning of the story and I don’t plan on spoiling any more of it for other would-be adventurers and rpg fans. Suffice it to say, Driftmoon features a lengthy story filled with numerous quests and colorful characters. Some of whom are friends, others that are enemies, and a number of unlikely companions who will help you on your quest to find out what has happened to your family, your town, and ultimately discover the greatest threat ever to befall Driftmoon.

Gameplay:
Driftmoon as easily described as an Isometric Adventure Role-Playing Game and is a bit like Diablo, Torchlight, but even Planescape: Torment. It features action in the form of real-time combat, but relies heavily on exploration and conversation in order to progress the story and receive quests. There are even some crafting elements which allow for some alchemical experimentation while using the ingredients found throughout Driftmoon. Some of the survival and crafting aspects have a slight Minecraft feel to them so fans of the above games will probably find gameplay that is appealling to them even though Driftmoon‘s gameplay crosses many genres.

The controls are handled intuitively and are very easy to use. The mouse is your primary method of control here, and a few hotkeys act as secondary functions which are great for shortcuts to things such as inventory, map display, item usage, etc. etc. If you’ve played an action / rpg before you’ll be very familiar with the layout and commands found within Driftmoon. Pointing and clicking with the mouse will move your character. Placing the pointer over an enemy and then clicking will perform an attack. Using a few of the simple command keys will bring up your map or inventory. Other commands will allow you to zoom in or out and even tilt the camera to a degree. It’s very elementary stuff but it works extremely well and allows the player to appreciate the gameplay mechanics rather than become distracted by them. All of this makes the game easy to get into but hard to put down.

Even after you’ve explored every location, completed every quest, and spoken to every character, Driftmoon offers an abundant amount of replay value due to it’s in-game mod, level, and world editor. Not only can you create your own story and build your own world, but you can download and play the games and levels which have been published and invented by everyone else in the Driftmoon community. In fact, there are already a number of downloadable mods available to the general public. These new levels and mods are entirely free to download and play as well. This makes for almost unlimited replay value in the form of future DLC that is surprising simple to create and use and is absolutely free. The tools that were used to create Driftmoon are all included in the mod editor and best of all, players can start building their own fantasy adventures with only slightly more effort than playing the game.

Graphics & Sound:
The graphics in Driftmoon are charming, atmospheric, colorful, and detailed. It would be easy to mistake the graphics for retro or even simple, when compared to other recent titles. However, Driftmoon is brimming with style and features highly detailed environments that really highlight the fantasy setting and show off the subtle but equally important background artwork. Little things like the candles, torches, and signs appear to have been crafted with care, while characters and enemies are unique and cleverly created. Changing equipment will even transform how your character looks including which weapon they are carrying and what types of armor they are wearing. Driftmoon proves that it’s the little things that count and this is precisely the reason why the overall game looks good, even today when most people expect hi-res, life-like graphics.

The music and audio in Driftmoon suit the gameplay and graphics perfectly. The sounds work side-by-side with the other elements which further enhance the atmosphere and fantasy surrounding the game and it’s world. The soundtrack is worthy of listening to by itself which is always nice and considering how great the music has been in rpg’s over the past two decades, it’s great that Driftmoon features such a nice soundtrack as well. The sound fx are what you’d expect for an indie rpg, including a few vocal queues here and there. There’s really only one area that could have possibly improved the Driftmoon experience and that would be the inclusion of full voice-overs. VO’s aren’t necessary, and more importantly if they aren’t done right they could actually ruin a game, but I think with the proper voice actors the audio could have enhanced the experience even more. Still, the game sounds great and works well with the fantasy environment.

Conclusion:
Driftmoon reminds me so much of what I loved about games when I was younger. The adventure, the story, the fun. It’s pure entertainment and a joy to play through. Yet it’s a brand new game released by a relatively unknown indie development studio. With this release however, I believe that Instant Kingdom and Driftmoon will become much more popular household names among the gaming community in general.

It’s easy for me to recommend Driftmoon as a purchase. It has a fun story, loads of gameplay, great atmosphere, and I think it will remind others of the great games they themselves had played long ago. I’d urge you to buy it after reading all of this, however if you’re still not convinced then please do yourself the favor of picking up the lengthy Driftmoon demo and find out for yourself why it deserves a place in your game library.  If nothing else, Driftmoon proves the point that greatness can come from humble beginnings!

You can purchase Driftmoon directly from the Instant Kingdom website, and you can also purchase it from these other popular game sites: GOG.com, GamersGateDesura, Greenman Gaming, and Indievania. So head over now, pick the game up, and save yourself the trouble of wasting money on a lesser adventure role-playing game!

[  9  /  10  ]