Drylands is 2D, pixel perfect platformer set in a post-apocalyptic world reminiscent of the early Fall Out games. It has an ambitious mission and story focus with an impressive scope and depth, which for a mobile game is both risky and refreshing. It defiantly stands out in the sea of clones, fruits swiping and bird tapping games, and proclaims ‘I will not conform to your one button high replay social experiments, I will bring you a real game’.
Without saying Drylands is visually beautiful. The environment in the starting area is impressively detailed with crisp pixel art creating an immediate sense of awe and nostalgia. It’s like a snap shot was taken from an early 90’s dos machine and sent to the future.
There are some issues though, one that unfortunately stopped us from being able to review the game correctly. There was at time of review a significant game crippling jump bug that restricted the player from jumping while running left in certain situations (iPhone 6 tested). You would have to jump first and then move in the air. This just didn’t work when the game started serving up tricky platform positioning. We actually delayed this review to see if it would be patched, but alas it remains.
Looking past the jump bug which will no doubt be fixed eventually, we had some comments on other areas of the game.
Visually the game has the right idea with an unmistakable premium feel, but it has some noticeable lack of expected detail. No background parallax. I love my parallax, and when a game that is so impressively detailed has the background layer moving together with the foreground… Well… This made me a little sad.
The main problem we found was with User Experience (UX) or, communication of information. This ranged from hard to see buttons, to general difficulty understanding what was being presented in the menu’s.
In the game there are various computers scattered throughout the environment that you can interface with. The purpose of these computers was confusing with most appearing to be merely cosmetic – with no effect on the game play.
I could be wrong, but that’s what the game ‘communicated’ to me. Many of these stations just had random error codes and technical gibberish.
I feel that I didn’t really didn’t get very far with this game, I gave it several attempts, but always ended up in the same place with nowhere left to go. Which leads me to my main gripe. Mission clarity/direction.
I got to a point in the game that my missions list was completely checked off, and I had been everywhere I thought I couple possibly go. At this point I was just walking around aimlessly looking for any mission prompt to indicate I’m on the right track. This was partly caused by the random computer stations that gave no meaningful info.
A mission arrow would have been a nice addition, or even a map highlight of the target location I should currently be in.
To be clear, I grew up in the 80’s retro era and am all for not having my hand held through my gaming escapades. I love a challenge. But even so, It felt like I was being challenged in the wrong ways. Rather than testing my strategy and skill against enemies. I was being challenged with deciphering the interface and basic game requirements.
I feel like I’m sounding negative, which is a shame because I was super excited about reviewing this game, and I can fully appreciate the effort put in. But it is what it is. I even shipped the game no another IGB reviewer and their experience was similar. I know there is something amazing here, it just needs a little more tuning.
I want to see more of this game, and once the jump bug is resolved I will be sure to have another play through and update this review with my thoughts. That’s is how much I’m interested in this game!
Anyways check it out if you want to learn more