No quarters necessary
I miss the frustrations of arcade games sometimes.
They were developed to give the player as great a challenge as possible, forcing them to focus completely or else suffer having to pay for another set of lives. DariusBurst Chronicle Saviours is relaxed in comparison, bringing the same kind of high intensity challenge without having to pay any more than the purchase price. As an added, optional bonus Steam users can set up a wide screen or even multiple monitors in order to play it as the developers meant it to be played.
Gameplay consists of teeth-gritting, fast paced 2D spaceship shoot-em-up action that makes it difficult to pay attention to anything else but the screen. Similarly, the music draws players into each level, upping the action and feeling very much inspired by older Mobile Suit Gundam soundtracks with flares of trumpet in the background as behemoth ships fly past sluggishly.
At the end of each level, after fighting through the different waves of smaller ships, players face a boss in the shape of one mechanical prehistoric sea creature or another, like a giant manta ray but with lasers. Seriously, each of these things looked like they should have been in Zoids. But beyond their initially unexpected and ridiculous shape, the amount of firepower that they send at you, a tiny little space fighter, is no joke. Different enemies follow different attack patterns, ranging from straight and narrow bullets flying through the air, to rotating beams and homing lasers that curve through space. Each one is typically equipped with a beam attack that comes with very little warning and tends to obliterate ships with a single hit. In the beginning, I found myself forgetting about the high score and just focusing on surviving each level with as the least amount of lives lost possible, a feat rewarded in some of the modes the game offers.
DariusBurst CS offers two main modes to players: Arcade and CS mode. CS mode is a sort of single-player mode with different sets of three levels to play through and conquer. Arcade mode offers the greatest bulk of gameplay with a near uncountable number of combinations of levels that allow for up to four players to pick up a space fighter and go into battle. Facing off against enemies that could appear from anywhere on a wide screen can feel intense, but the ships are equipped to handle it, able to turn from one direction to another and attack anything coming in from behind. And when things get a little too tough for the regular guns or the ship’s maneuverability to handle, there’s still a powerful beam attack called the burst weapon. Though the charge is limited, it refreshes with anything it destroys, including ships and bullets from enemy ships.
Mastering the use of the burst weapon is essential since the beam can hover in place as the ship moves around, or even tilt in one direction or the other to cut through enemies in a wide arc. This allows it to work as active cover against bullets, though only temporarily without a constant supply of enemies. Unfortunately, figuring out how to use it isn’t obvious. With no manual translated in English, gamers will either have to go to the main site for the controls or wait at the main menu for the demo video to appear and provide a quick tutorial. There is also a fair bit of untranslated content, including a few character and monster boss details, leaving out something for those seeking a story.
DariusBurst Chronicle Saviours is not a game meant for casual players, and does not really return that much value to single player gamers either. I got more out of the game in the arcade mode, dealing with the serious challenges the game throws at you. I also particularly enjoyed having friends over and playing local co-op, yelling at each other as we took on the more difficult levels with reckless abandon. Available for PC and PS4 at $49.99, it feels initially pricey but offers a consistent amount of gameplay and is also one of a small but growing number of couch co-operative games. I wasn’t wowed by the game, and normally I push for a little story, even in arcade games such as these (I loved Time Crisis). But otherwise, this is a fun game to have in your library.
Tested on PS4
Review copy supplied