Random Indie Game of the Week: Driftmoon Hands-On Update


It’s allllmost done, folks. Ville and Anne Mönkkönen’s refreshingly fun (and funny) blend of adventure and role-playing as gotten a ton of fixes including new skills, all sorts of little and big optimizations and is shaping up to be a great blend old and new school genre fans looking for something really unique should absolutely buy. Go play the latest demo and see for yourself. I’ll wait, but while I’m waiting, a short report on what’s new:

When we last left our hero (in a previous demo build), an important item was acquired, a relative was rescued and there was a nice air of “this is really going to be even more fun!” at the expected abrupt ending. Picking up right from that save, the game gets funnier and a bit more challenging as new enemies and plenty of nice surprises awaited with further exploration. One thing new players will NEED to learn (other than adjusting to the top-down camera angle, but there’s a potential slight options tweak being considered) is the importance of moving or activating certain objects in the game world to uncover assorted secrets. I found a new room in the old dungeon I was on the way out of by extinguishing a torch (hey!), and there were a wealth of cool items under chairs, chests, wooden boards and heavy rocks (among other places)…

Some new enemies in the new area included tough smoke-producing beasties that block your view until you step into those billowy (and possibly smoky-smelling) clouds and have to fight for your life. The Karma system is also working well here, as you’ll come across a few tempting opportunities to add handy items to your growing inventory that might seem like a good and greedy thing to do, but you’ll end up paying for it in one of a few ways. Side quests are ample and so far, take place with a minimum of annoyance (as in none at all). You need to be a bit meticulous to find some of the folks or creatures who need your help, but expect some well-written exposition as you meet new friends (or potential foes).

As the game isn’t 100% complete (it’s getting there!), a few more things need adjusting. I noticed a slight delay in some mouse inputs when coming out of menus or the inventory screen, but this doesn’t affect combat one bit (which is a joy because the game isn’t a click-fest at all). I actually put about four more hours into the game, but decided to restart a new save just so I could see if there were any big or small changes made to the beginning of the adventure. There were, but I’ll not spoil anything because if you’ve been following the game’s development, you know what’s new and if you haven’t played it yet, you won’t have missed a single thing. No matter where you’re stepping into the world of Driftmoon, there’s so much to like that you might be giving certain other games in your collection the evil eye because they’re more expensive and not even half as good.

Even though the game is being sold direct on the Instant Kingdom website, there’s still a chance for it to get a bigger push on Steam through the Greenlight program. Still, I’d love to see the Mönkkönen’s reap the full rewards of people who actually know how to use the internet (buy direct first so they make MORE of a profit) AND get noticed by a site like Steam or (even better) gog.com where plenty of fans of classic to current games hang out. OK, shutting up now, as I’ve got some objects to track down to solve a nifty puzzle. That, and I’m a few levels away from gaining what looks like an interesting skill. Hmmm… I’ll save all that and more for the review (so stay tuned)…

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