Sunday, December 10, 2017

Review: Dimension Drive [ Nintendo Switch eShop ]


We’ve been blessed by a wide variety of shooters on the Switch to date, ranging from straight arcade-style scrollers to twin-stick and various things in between. In order to stand out, though, you sometimes need to try something new get noticed. That’s where Dimension Drive comes in, bringing something very different and new to the table, playing out as a hybrid of a left-right brain puzzle game and vertically-scrolling shooter. If you’re willing to spend some time to get used to its style it definitely shakes things up quite a bit and provides a substantial challenge.


With a storyline that plays out with comic-book-style cutscenes you’ll play as Jack, pilot of the dimension-shifting Manticore battle cruiser, and would-be savior of the universe. In order to succeed you’ll need to fly through the game’s multiple worlds and 13 levels, working to not only shoot down enemy fighters but also very carefully work to collect data cubes and power-ups while hopefully managing to stay alive. While it starts out more simply you’ll very quickly learn the challenge of keeping track of the action, and more importantly obstacles, on the two sides of your screen at once. Warping from one side to the other can be important tactically, but if you’re not giving both sides a fair amount of attention at once it will often end up with you warping into solid objects or at least a bad situation under fire.

As you acquire new maneuvers for your craft the puzzle-like element of the game becomes more pronounced, requiring you to warp from side to side to avoid obstacles, trigger doors to open, and evade sticky situations. In particular boss sequences will typically take a few tries as you get the full picture of what you’ll need to do in order to succeed. The key to all of this working is control and, for the most part, everything is responsive and intuitive. At times I would get my functions confused when the action got intense but that’s more likely on me than the scheme used necessarily.


In terms of criticisms I’d say the risk Dimension Drive takes is in mixing two pretty different genres together that typically can have separate audiences. By giving the game such a strong sort of puzzle component shooter fans will likely be frustrated by how little importance the shooting itself can have in places, often being less vital than the dance of which side you want to be on at any given time. Conversely people who will enjoy the left-right brain challenge aspects of the game may struggle with the intensity of the shooting when that comes to the forefront. Some areas can get so tight with needing to very carefully move back and forth that they can get quite aggravating as well. Since the representation of your ship on the side you aren’t currently on is just a red dot, in tight spaces the need to quickly and accurately approximate your ship’s dimensions and placement can be troublesome and result in what can feel like cheap deaths. With repetition this can be gotten through but at times it seems the game loses sight of its nature of being a shooter and gets bogged down too much in the precision of moving from left to right and back.

Overall Dimension Drive isn’t a bad game but its split focus on shooting, precision maneuvering, and to a degree solving puzzles puts it at risk for being a jack of all trades but master of none. When the shooting intensity steps up the focus on shifting settles more into the background and then it can sometimes get into a nice groove but, overall, the game seems determined to keep you shifting. Between the element of challenge and it being split down the middle in terms of its genre focus I’d consider it more of an acquired taste but probably compelling for the right audience.


Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • A very different overall play experience than I’ve previously had
  • Requires you to constantly stay engaged on what is happening on both sides of your screen
  • Many boss sequences play out in unique ways due to the shifting dynamic

Cons:
  • In some sections it can be hard to pick out what’s in the background and foreground when you need think quickly, resulting in warping into solid objects
  • The red dot indicator can be deceptive in very tight sections
  • While it is a shooter it very rarely lets you get into a satisfying shooting groove