‌Memories Of An Era Long-Gone

HIGH A well-designed futuristic armory.

LOW: Arcade shoot-’em-ups used to be more challenging, didn’t they?

WTF: No support for mouse & keyboard on PC?

Habroxia 2 is an old-school 2D spaceship shoot-’em-up (shmup) from Eastasiasoft Limited and Lillymo Games. The player will fly deep into uncharted darkness and save humankind from an alien threat by clearing out 18 side-scrolling and vertically-scrolling levels filled with waves of enemy ships and fierce bosses.

While most of its gameplay is straightforward shmup action, something that caught my eye was the level design — some areas act as junctions where the player must choose between two paths, each with its own boss.

At first, I was fascinated by the idea. Creating reasons to come back to a previously-completed level to find secrets or new areas is a key element in metroidvanias, and including those kind of elements in a 2D shmup would be an impressive innovation! Unfortunately, it was not to be.

Although Habroxia 2 gradually offers new weapons to the player, they don’t change the way the ship interacts with the world. So, despite appearances, the player is only being asked to play a level twice and choose a different path each time in order to reach the final boss. I appreciate that this adds some replay, but the unrealized potential here is a shame.

As mentioned, Habroxia 2 contains plenty of secondary and special weapons. Short bursts of lasers are good for close encounters, while things like homing missiles are suitable for long-range engagements. The wide variety of guns is one of Habroxia 2‘s main features, but the general lack of challenge reduces the need for experimentation. After completing the first five or six levels and upgrading the offensive capabilities of my ship, I became an undying beast and managed to finish the game with little effort.

After rolling those credits I jumped into the unlocked boss rush mode and took down a surprising 32 bosses in a row before I was finally defeated. It’s not that my shmup skills are exceptional, but probably more due to Habroxia 2‘s too-soft difficulty curve and poor enemy design. The aliens in each area don’t possess any noteworthy attacks or patterns, so there’s not much need for any special tactics to approaches to engage them.

On the technical side, Habroxia 2 has some shortcomings. First of all, it does not support using mouse or keyboard on PC — the only way to play is with a controller. The game also provides no graphic options, meaning that the player can’t even change the resolution or any related qualities. Habroxia 2 is clearly designed for consoles in mind and the devs made no effort to add even basic PC amenities.

Habroxia 2 certainly looks like an ’80s shmup with its the space theme and retro-style graphics, but it fails to capture the thrill and challenge of those titles. It’s an enjoyable ride for the three or so hours it takes to finish, but it will fade from a player’s memory soon after.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Eastasiasoft Limited and Lillymo Games and published by Eastasiasoft Limited. It is currently available on Switch, PS4, XBO, PC and Vita. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and was reviewed on PC. Approximately 3 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T for Language. There’s not much to worry about here.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game has no spoken dialogue so, all the communication in the game happens made through text and subtitles. These subtitles cannot be resized or altered. No audio cues are necessary for play so this game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.

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