Driftmoon – Indie Review | Ogre Jungle

Driftmoon Box Art

Developer: Instant Kingdom

Platforms: (Microsoft Windows PC)  (Mac)  (Linux)

Release Date: Feb. 26th, 2013

Genre: Action Adventure RPG

Players: Single Player

Regular Price: $14.99 USD

Isometric RPGs, one of the greatest gifts in life for an RPG gamer, have been rather lacking of late. No developer has really gone out and tried to catch the gaming community’s attention like Baldur’s Gate or Neverwinter Nights managed to do, but the indie scene has really been outdoing itself in bringing back what it really means to game. Driftmoon, the new title from Instant Kingdom, is a prime example of a game that is really trying to push new and old gamers’ attentions towards old-school isometric RPGs.

Driftmoon revolves around the game’s hero being unexpectedly drawn into a save the world scenario. Along the way he is joined by an interesting assortment of allies that help him fight the horde of baddies that are around every bend and to solve the puzzles that seem to be blocking every path.

Game Summary: From Developers

The beautiful, enchanted world of Driftmoon trembles in the shadow of a forgotten evil, f or the dark King Ixal is again gathering his forces.

Hope lies in an unlikely alliance: A young man joins forces with a little firefly dreaming of stardom, a panther queen with the ego of a moon whale, and a very determined fellow who’s lost everything but his bones, and still hasn’t given up. Knowing nothing of the amazing adventures and the fearsome foes that await them, the party embarks on a journey like no other.

Story:  A

Driftmoon does a magnificent job of placing you into an interactive fairytale. The locations, monsters, friends, and strange items just seem to fit into this child’s tale so well. While hardcore gamers wanting a more adult theme won’t really find what they are looking for (Some plot twists do get a bit dark), anyone wanting to play through a soft-hearted adventure will be more than satisfied.

The only issue I found with the game’s plot was how long it took to actually get going. Hooking the audience in the first few minutes of gameplay is a must for games that focus so much on story, and Driftmoon took about 30-40 minutes before it actually caught my interest (And wouldn’t let go). If you are like me and start having doubts about the game after playing for a good twenty minutes, I highly advise you to just truck through it until you get to the first key plot point (You can thank me later when you get there).

I was also amazed at the amount of dialogue within the game! Driftmoon is nearly splitting at the seams when it comes to conversations, books, notes, and item backgrounds.  Instant Kingdom did a great job at really fleshing out the world of Driftmoon, and the player quickly comes to understand the world’s key landmarks, its history, and even the relationship status of its crustaceans. It really is a great experience for those who love reading a good story. Although I would recommend to stay far far away from Driftmoon if reading is not your thing.

With its layers and layers of dialogue, Driftmoon unfortunately lacks voice acting. While this would be a game killer for this type of title if it was mainstream, Driftmoon is an indie title so it is excusable (Because voice actors are darn expensive!). Oh, did I forget to mention multiple endings? Yeah, the game has them.

Driftmoon Lost Island HELP PicGameplay:  A+

Driftmoon’s gameplay is what you might expect from a genre that is all about the story. It focuses on the main plot and gives you a good number of optional sidequests that help power up your character with neat items or stat increases. Driftmoon has plenty of collectible items scattered every which way, and are usually found by clicking and dragging items out of the way. I couldn’t tell you how many times I found a great piece of equipment under a treasure chest that also held a pretty powerful addition to my gear.

Driftmoon’s combat revolve around clicking on an enemy and letting your hero and his companions auto attack it to death (À la Baldur’s Gate). The combat is not the most exciting thing in the world, but you are not playing Driftmoon for the combat and you do get a few special attacks to keep you busy.

The key purpose of Driftmoon’s gameplay, which involves auto combat, gaining experience to level, and strange item collecting (Goldfish anyone?), is not to entertain but to help you get from one story point to the next, and it does this in the fashion fans of the genre expect. I do however have an issue with the low amount of lengthy sidequests. The game is very close to being a railroad style RPG that does not lose any focus at all on the main plot. Some enjoy their games being focused like this but I was a little too spoiled by my Forgotten Realms experiences (I feel like I need to give Planescape Torment its daily hug).

There is one major piece of content that gives Driftmoon a perfect score in my book, and that is its mods. The game itself has a mod section where users can upload their own creations and any player can simply click to install and play. This feature is so simple and allows the game to go on indefinitely if people keep adding their own content! Not enough games allow its users to easily share their own fan creations, and that’s a real shame.

Controls:  A+

Driftmoon’s controls are nearly entirely mouse based. Everything you need, moving, switching equipment, dragging objects, or conversing can be done in-game with a few simple mouse clicks. There are also a number of hotkeys to quickly access the menus, and you always have the option to change the keybindings from the options menu. I really found no issues with the controls at all.

Driftmoon Volcano Dungeon BattleGraphics: B+

Graphics is the department where Driftmoon is a tad bit lacking. The game’s graphics do get the job done. You are never squinting to try to see what exactly a person or creature is, but character models and textures do appear rather dated. While the graphics are okay, I do still have to subtract from the game’s score because of this. Driftmoon does still look a ton better than so many other indie games hitting the market and it does have its moments in the graphics department.

Fortunately, it does receive a few bonus points for the great artwork in the game. Every plot involved character was given its own personal portrait, and they look great. I found myself looking forward to what the next group of characters’ portraits would be like. The artist really gets a strong ‘Thumbs Up’ from me.

Sound:  A+

The music in Driftmoon is awesome. Your really missing out on some great fantasy style tunes if you skip on this game, and believe me when I say that you will regret not hearing them. If for some reason you plan on passing on Driftmoon than at least head over to Gareth Meek’s Page and sample the tunes or buy the Soundtrack. The guy did a great job and deserves some praise.

Driftmoon_Giant_Footprints_and_Beye_AttackFun Factor:  A

I had an amazing time exploring the world of Driftmoon, and was actually quite sad when I finally beat the game. I really have not enjoyed an RPG this much in quite a while, and you are hearing this from a guy who plays way too many RPGs. My only issue in the fun factor is how long it took for Driftmoon’s major hook to try to grab me. Waiting 40 minutes to finally catch the player’s attention is rather dangerous for a game of any genre, but I am glad that I stuck with it and didn’t miss out on this title.

Overall Score:  A

Driftmoon is currently up on Steam Greenlight and could use your upvotes to get it up and running on Steam. If you are still on the fence about the game than I would definitely recommend checking out the free demo. It will wet your tongue with the game and definitely give you a good idea if it is really for you or not. You can grab the demo or purchase the game at the links below:

www.InstantKingdom.com   (Official Site)

www.GOG.com  (Always DRM free)





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Written by Jonathan Parsons

English teacher and freelance writer Jonathan Parsons is a longtime gamer working abroad in Japan. He spends his free time swimming through the Akita winter snow to his car and playing classic PC and Famicom games.