Truly inventive retro-inspired indie shoot 'em ups are few and far between. Thankfully, Dimension Drive offers a fresh and exciting spin on the classic genre that's as enjoyable as it is brutally challenging.
You play Dimension Drive as Jackelyne Tywood (simply referred to as Jack) in her trusty ship The Manticore in order to unravel the mysteries of the galaxy with the help of an AI named V.E.R.A. Although that's a nifty premise for a shmup, you probably don't care about the story so let's dive right into the gameplay. The core shooting is nothing new as all you do is fly around while avoiding obstacles and projectiles and blasting away your foes. Where things get interesting is the fact that the screen is divided into two sections and you can warp between the two by the tap of a button. Doing so will not only help you evade certain hazards but you can also run out of energy thus rendering your weapons useless until you let them recharge again by warping to the other side of the screen. It's a clever dynamic and makes the gameplay much more challenging than your average shmup.
Dimension Drive's visuals and sound are quite well-done. Watching the 3D environments whiz by as you progress through the stages is a treat. Meanwhile, the soundtrack provides some arcade-style vibes to the presentation. The sound effects are spot-on and hearing Jack occasionally chime in during certain events offers a lot of personality, too. Overall, it's a great looking and sounding shoot 'em up.
Aside from the core gameplay, Dimension Drive allows you to collect objects known as Data Cubes as you play that unlock additional weapons. Uncovering them usually requires split-second reactions when they appear onscreen in tricky locations so acquiring a new one is rather rewarding. Anyway, you'll need all the firepower you can get to snuff out the incredibly challenging bosses. The first few are quite easy to take down but they get exceptionally tough. This is both good and bad as it's fantastic to fight such inventive bosses but it also means that there are plenty of brutal difficulty spikes that can be rather discouraging. There are a handful of difficulty settings but the easiest one is still far from easy so it's a good idea to avoid Dimension Drive unless you're a hardcore shoot 'em up fan.
Dimension Drive also features a cooperative multiplayer component although trying to play it can be a taxing endeavor. This is simply due to the utter confusion caused by having two players simultaneously onscreen. After trying it with my wife for a few rounds, I went right back to playing solo and she's thankful that I did. Anyway, the campaign consists of three worlds with four stages in each which isn't much content although completing the whole thing will require a great deal of skill. That brings me to my next point; considering this is such a tough score-based game, the lack of leaderboards is a huge missed opportunity. Seeing as the only mode is the campaign that you can either play solo or with a friend, online rankings would have helped extend the replay value significantly.
Dimension Drive is a tough-as-nails shoot 'em up with a very cool shift mechanic. If that statement sounds appealing to you then I highly advise giving it a download as you surely won't be disappointed.
- + Solid shooting gameplay with an awesome shift mechanic and fun collectibles
- + Great visuals and audio
- + Inventive boss fights
- - Brutal difficulty spikes
- - Multiplayer mode is far too confusing
- - Only a dozen stages / no online leaderboards