Gaming

Drainus is a 2D Shmup masterpiece so keep praying for this switch port

Image: Ladybug Team

Japanese developer Team Ladybug Indeed good at bows. So far, its production has been dominated by metroidvania-themed games with excellent Record of the Lodos War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth drawing huge inspiration from the game that helped come up with the name of the genre – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Wonder Labyrinth recently appeared on Switch (along with colleagues from Metroidvania Touhou Moonlight Nights), and we are expensive, expensive I hope the next Team Ladybug project will follow suit.

Its name suggests that Drenus this is a playful take on Konami gradient, but it’s something special with its own unique ideas, the most obvious of which is the ability to absorb incoming projectiles and lasers and fire them at the enemy in the form of homing missiles. The more fire you absorb, the more aggressive your response will be; The caveat here is that you can’t absorb fire indefinitely, and timing to use this ability is vital, as misuse means incoming bullets will damage your ship. You also have to fight the bullets that Can not be absorbed; they are outlined in red.

Drainus is not the first game to take this approach – in Treasure you could absorb projectiles. Ikaruga, of course, but the system here is implemented especially well. Enemy attack patterns are built to force you to use the absorption ability as skillfully as possible, making sure you anticipate a short but significant cooldown before you can use it again.

In addition, there is an update system that can be accessed at any time by pausing the game. Using items collected in the game, you can purchase better weapons, shields, and other add-ons to level the playing field; the range of upgrades is pretty dazzling, although having to dive into a rather complicated menu system to apply them breaks the immersion somewhat.

Luckily, Drainus isn’t wrong when it comes to bosses, which are often multi-stage behemoths that are reminiscent of Treasure’s very best work. These beasts are visually stunning, and just when you think you’ve licked them, fight back with one final, visually striking transformation. They are so well designed that it’s a real thrill to fight them, it’s almost a shame to finish them off.

Also of note is the above-average Drainus storyline, which is perfectly set up for a training mission where you assume you’re being trained by the good guys, when in fact the instructor is talking to an enemy pilot and you’re sneakily eavesdropping using the communications system of the powerful Drainus ship you stolen from the bad guys. The cutscenes in the game are of excellent quality and match the equally brilliant graphics in the game. Like Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth, this is an amazing game with amazing animations and detailed sprites. The music is decent too; while there may not be many tracks that stay in memory the same as in Grad V or Shining Silvergun (both works by the untouchable Hitoshi Sakimoto), the soundtrack more than gets the job done.

If Drainus has one big flaw, it’s the fact that it ended pretty quickly and wasn’t all that difficult (the same could be said for Didlit in the Miraculous Labyrinth, to be honest). However, beating the game unlocks a bunch of bonus content, and it’s such a great experience that you’ll want to revisit it multiple times.

Drainus is currently available on Steam and costs $14.99. If you have the funds to play, we highly recommend that you do so, but the Switch port is a very, very real possibility. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long for that to happen, because this is one of the best 2D shooters in recent memory and it deserves to reach as wide an audience as possible.




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