Shoot ’em-ups have been a go to genre for me since I started gaming. The hellishly difficult chapters, the variety in enemies and bosses, and the absurd storylines have always been a draw. I love how modern gaming has pushed to realism, and open world freedom, yet I still crave that hit of arcade action. Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to play and review Habroxia. I loved every moment, and the review can be read here! When I was advised that Habroxia 2 was due to be released in February, I hounded the publishers and developers for a review code.
With the promise that the second one would use the first as its foundation, but bump it up a gear, made me very excited. Developed by Lillymo Games and published by Eastasiasoft Limited, this classic shoot-’em-up title will have you scrambling around desperately trying to survive as you battle your way to victory.
New foes, but classic gameplay.
An attack has been made on free space, a squad of scout ships has been sent to investigate the area and one fails to return. The pilot’s talented daughter Sabrina must use her skills to avenge her dad’s disappearance. Armed with a basic vessel, she has to overcome many obstacles, enemies and bosses on her search for the truth.
The foes that you will face are like nothing you’ve seen before, but yet the gameplay is as old-school as it comes.
This side-scrolling, 2D shooter will have fans of retro games drooling in delight. A pixelated approach reeks of the arcade titles of old, and its smooth but hectic approach lull you into a false sense of security. You will address each stage differently depending on your weapons and game style. All out attack can be advantageous but a lack of planning can be the undoing of the best Shmup gamers.
Habroxia was great, but 2 is a different beast.
I adored every element of Habroxia and didn’t expect it to be beaten, yet here we are. Habroxia 2 is like the first, but on steroids. Everything is bigger, stronger, better and more polished. Every element has been tweaked and refined; the gameplay is much more in-depth, upgrades are more advanced, enemies more intelligent, and the level designs are ingenious. This is exactly how a modern day Shoot-’em-up should be; fun, exciting, addictive and challenging.
Each level diverges due to the non-linear storyline. You have 2 portions; “1a and 1b, 2a and 2b” This adds a ridiculous amount of gameplay. Alongside this, each stage has its own mini objectives; Enemy bounties, boss bounties, and an astronaut to save. When you combine this with the hectic gameplay, it’s a brilliant if not headache inducing experience.
Same old credit system, but more to spend it on.
Destroying the landscape, annihilating enemies and defeating bosses awards you with well earned credits. These must be spent on upgrading your spaceship. Improve your; health, armour, boost, shooting range and power, movement and more. You are free to select which works for you, but ultimately you need all of them to progress. No matter the amount of credits you earn, you never have enough. You must replay most levels to increase your strength, and once your vessel is mighty enough, you will mow through your foes like a hot knife through butter.
My main gripe with Habroxia was the simplicity of the bosses, and it’s painful for me to report that not much has changed on this front. Most can be easily kited and defeating them is a matter of course than a test of your skill. I found it harder arriving at their lair than shooting them from space. It’s disappointing that the developers failed to enhance this element like they had all the others. This doesn’t mean that the boss fights are poor or lack enjoyment. No, they simply failed to challenge me like the rest of the game.
A stunning modern take on a classic genre.
Whenever I see shmup’s being brought to market, I fear the developers will rip the soul out of the genre. Lillymo Games didn’t do this, they kept to the tried and tested formula and polished it for modern gamers. Every graphical layer is fantastic. The simple pixelated models of the aliens and your ship, the variety in the bullets fired from different weapons, and the choices of landscapes were a joy to observe. The dark tones created a sinister atmosphere which opposed the bright colour palette used for our heroine’s ship. Even with many bullets flying and explosions happening, the action never slowed, nor were there any issues.
This theme continued with the exceptional audio. A delightful chiptune soundtrack accompanies everything that you do. This upbeat music inspires you to dodge and shoot your way to victory. The crass and synthesised sound effects scream retro arcade title. Every part of the sound and visual package worked in perfect harmony, helping to create a modern nostalgia filled classic.
Lightning quick reflexes, but simple to play.
Hectic and fast-paced gameplay ensures that only the one with the quickest reflexes will be the champion gamer. This may frustrate some players, but practice makes perfect. Each level runs on a loop, meaning that you can learn your enemy’s movements and plan the best approach. A twin-stick method has been utilised to increase accuracy, and it’s a vast improvement on the standard approach previously taken. Though the gameplay may defeat you, learning the fundamentals won’t, and the control system is a joy to get to grips with.
Because of its non-linear approach, multiple level goals, many bosses and the NG+ mode, you will play this for hours. Habroxia 2 is a shmup that oozes replay value and charm. Its simple approach and user-friendly interface gets you hooked. You’ll lose hours by saying “just one more try!” A large yet simple achievement list will be unlocked through natural progression, and completionists will have fun trying to get their 100% status.
Habroxia 2 is the new champion.
There have been some classic Shoot-’em-up games published, and Habroxia 2 is up there as one of the best. Every element works, with its classic graphics, thumping audio, simple controls and excessive replay value. This will keep you playing for hours. A stunning example of a Shmup that will have you screaming with rage and crying for joy! Every developer should look at this as the blueprint of what makes the genre great. I absolutely recommend this, so buy your copy here! Can Sabrina avenge her father’s disappearance? Jump in your ship, upgrade its equipment, and destroy every alien you see.