Gaming genres move in trends and as newer ideas emerge, familiar mechanics get relegated to the past but every once in a while, everyone enjoys a dose of nostalgia and for those looking for a hit of that awesome shoot ’em up action, look no further than Lillymo Games’ Habroxia 2.
The sequel to 2019’s wonderful Habroxia, the mechanics and gameplay designs of the shmup gets a fresh coat of paint with Habroxia 2. Instead of overly focusing on the plot, this is one game where the story can be ignored due to the purity of the actual action happening on screen.
There are no stunningly beautiful and realistic graphics, but the pixellated shooter brings with it a charm of its own. From the design of your ship to the many enemies that stand in your way, every hit and explosion is presented as a celebration of sorts. It truly feels like it is you against the world, where survival is dependent on your flying skills and shooting accuracy.
Habroxia 2 is not reinventing the wheel when it comes to a shmup. Rather, it has added enough twists to the formula to freshen up things for a modern audience. The game does not just restrict players to one particular perspective, but oftentimes, it switches to a top-down or side-on perspective that adds another layer of challenge to the proceedings.
Keeping players guessing and focused is a great way to highlight the core gameplay that drives Habroxia 2 along nicely. The way in which you navigate, shoot, and the enemies that swarm the screen differ depending on your perspective. Add in alternate paths and secrets hidden along the way, and this is a game worth replaying over and over again.
All that would be for nothing if the actual shooting was not up to snuff and thankfully, Habroxia 2 has everything down almost perfectly. The different special weapons that you can fire in front or to the back of your ship, the various ways enemies move and cause harm to you, and the numerous Viking-inspired bosses all come together in a maelstrom of fun and intensity.
Your standard blaster is a good reliable tool, and you can back that up with a selection of special weapons. There are homing missiles, lasers that spread, a futuristic laser sword, a scattershot, and even destructive bombs. Every choice has its effectiveness and use, and it is up to you to decide how you want to approach every level. Replaying levels with different loadouts also make for a brand new experience.
As you deal damage to the flying or grounded enemies, or destroy parts of the environment, you might find hidden power-ups that can aid your cause. It could be a healing pick-up, one of the four ship augments, or more credits, there is always something worthwhile for picking off each and every foe.
The controls in Habroxia 2 are tight, allowing you to make deft movements to avoid damage while keeping the enemies at bay. The bullet hell nature of the game definitely requires pinpoint precision, and more often than not, the controls hold up. Certain areas are a little iffy when it comes to hit detection, but that is the exception more than the norm. The boost function of your ship also comes in handy for avoiding projectiles, and in a pinch, it can be extremely damaging to enemy ships as well.
The various levels in Habroxia 2 offer a certain degree of freedom to the player. You can go in search of stranded astronauts, or hunt down a mysterious bounty. Alternate paths can bring you down the game’s branching paths, opening up new levels and bosses to overcome. Your progression counts at every step every time you take off.
Getting high scores, long combo streaks, and many other elements right will earn you credit bonuses. Alongside the credits you pick up through the levels, players can choose to upgrade the many facets of your ship. Do you prefer a stronger weapon, a faster firing rate, or more health to withstand the heat? The choices are many, and more importantly, it is yours to make.
It might appear that Habroxia 2 requires grinding to progress, but that is far from the case. Every level is challenging, but not to the extent when you feel helpless. The game allows you to play and enjoy its content freely, and rewards you even when you perish. It is all about having fun, and Habroxia 2 embodies that perfectly.
However, for those of you looking to test those skills, Lillymo Games has not forgotten about you. There is a more challenging New Game+ awaiting those who have completed the first gauntlet. This mode remixes up the levels with a nice bump in difficulty, with bosses being more than a handful the second time around.
You can also engage in a war of attrition in the Boss Rush mode, going up against a continuous stream of bosses until you perish. Finally, there is the Boost Rush mode, which puts you on a hair-raising speedrun on a permanent boost that will test your control. Habroxia 2 is definitely not skimping on its content.
For an old-school experience in modern times, Habroxia 2 manages to capture everything great about the genre while adding new spins on things to engage the player. It is ultimately entertaining, challenging, and a sheer delight to play through. While it may not be the longest game, but Habroxia 2 is guaranteed to hold your attention from start to finish.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
A rewarding shmup that knows what it is doing, this is comfort food for those looking for a nostalgic trip in 2021.
Gameplay - 9/10
Story - 7/10
Presentation - 9/10
Value - 9/10