Driftland: The Magic Revival
I love strategy games. Managing empires, citizens and your soldiers, there’s a certain thrill in the concept. When the same concept includes magic, there’s a whole new layer of tactics that can be applied to gain the upper hand in the meta. Driftland: The Magic Revival by Star Drifters promises to deliver on these fronts. Deep lore, magic, empire management and a story based campaign to boot, Driftland:The Magic Revival has a lot going for it. But does it deliver? Let’s find out.
Story and Narrative
The game is set in a world that has almost been destroyed by a magical cataclysm due to a war between the four factions in the game, the Humans, Wild Elves, Dwarves and the Dark elves. The campaign does a decent job of explaining the backstory of the world, and gives a set of optional linear objectives to advance the plot, and build up your empire. While the mechanics of the four factions are very different, the campaign storyline is largely similar. You basically end up looking for certain artifacts that will help your empire grow by giving you certain bonuses, but they essentially just end the mission and move on to the next.
The narrative is quite simple and the campaign is quite easy to get into, even for players new to the strategy genre. There is no voice acting in the campaign per se, but the dialogue is often witty and humorous. Kudos to the writing team. The replay value is also there, seeing that the factions have a varied set of spells and buildings, each doing a variety of things.
Gameplay and Mechanics
Islands a plenty
Whether you start the game in campaign mode, or skirmish mode, you will have one castle and an explorer on a single island in a procedurally generated sea of floating landmasses. How these two modes differ is essentially the “storyline”. While you’ll essentially be completing missions to unlock buildings and magic spells, skirmish mode does away with the complex dialogue between characters and replaces them with “Collect X from Place Y after scanning for it using Spell Z”. The starting island has your castle, but not enough space to build basically anything else. You must then use magic to get other islands closer to yours and build bridge. This is essentially the only way to expand your landmass.
A small gripe I had with this is; the game touts that it uses procedural map generation. While that is true, the only difference it makes is how far and how big the islands are. When it comes to terrain variety, there really aren’t that many choices.
Remote controlled characters
Remember how I said the combat feels gimmicky? Well, that’s because of one of the supposed “features” of the game. Here, you don’t give orders to individual units. You can’t. You can’t order any units to do anything. You just give generic commands such as “Explore here” or “Attack this unit”. These orders are again queued up, so if you have an explorer and a hero, and the first command you gave was explore, then they both explore, but they’ll also both fight if an enemy attacks them. There’s no effective way to pull back the weak explorer because of their “free” will. Since you’re a very powerful mage capable of moving islands, at least temporary control of individual units would be great.
The game is essentially an RTS, with the ability to pause any time to issue orders either in terms of combat, or economy. This is a big plus and makes micromanagement a lot less hectic. However, it’s here that the lack of granular control frustrates the most.
Bob the Builder
The game as a huge variety of resources and building options, from coal mines to gold mines, from farms to mana towers, you are spoiled for choice, Each building is unique, by the way, and their designs are varied as their functionality. Since you can individually manage the number of workers in a building, while also generally specifying the number of workers assigned to a specific task, the possibilities are endless. Just as the game describes the economy, it is “easy to learn and hard to master”.
Visuals, Performance, and Sound
The graphics of the game are pretty good. While they’re not the best for an RTS, they get the job done. Sure, they sometimes look like you’re playing a mobile game since you can’t zoom all the way in, but this is a design decision and I’m fine with it. What it does, it does well. The grass textures are pleasing to the eye, and the fight animations are fluid as well. There’s also a subtle DOF effect that makes the void look gloomy. Much appreciated.
The game performs pretty well on a variety of specifications. The game recommends a GTX 1060, with a Ryzen 5 processor (which is also what I tested on), and it runs flawlessly at maxed out settings at 1080p on these specs. Plus, it runs at above 30fps on a 4-year-old AMD A10 laptop with HD7860M graphics at 720p. Kudos on the optimization. However, the game did crash a few times on both these setups. I think a couple of hotfixes are necessary.
[toggles behavior=”toggle”] [toggle title=”Minimum requirements”]OS: 64-bit Windows 7
Processor: AMD Ryzen 3 or Intel Core i3 (3 GHz)
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: AMD Radeon 7970 or NVIDIA GeForce 770 or or equivalent DirectX 11 card
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 5 GB available space[/toggle] [toggle title=”Recommended Requirements”]OS: 64-bit Windows 10
Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 or Intel Core i5 (3 GHz)
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 480 or NVIDIA GeForce 1060 or or equivalent DirectX 11 card
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 5 GB available space[/toggle] [toggle title=”Review Specs”]OS: 64-bit Windows 10
Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 1600
Memory: 16 GB RAM Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 1060
DirectX: Version 11[/toggle] [/toggles] Now, the best thing about this game. It’s sound design. From the background score to the menu music to the fight music, this is probably one of the only strategy games where I haven’t muted the in-game music to play my own. It’s pleasing to the ears without feeling same-y. Simply outstanding.
Driftland: The Magic Revival isn’t for everyone. And it doesn’t try to be a people pleaser. No, it’s not rough around the edges or anything like that, it’s just that the mechanics of this game are different. Now, this is neither here nor there, but I personally dislike the fact that I can’t individually control my characters. Some people actually prefer this, and they would very much enjoy this game. However, the story could have been better, and the tutorial could have been a bit more fleshed out. Same goes for skirmish, it feels a bit repetitive. Especially for its asking price of ₹699. At ₹500 or less, the game would be a steal. Still, this is a game that a lot of enjoyment can be had out of, and I would gladly recommend it for strategy fans provided they’re willing to adjust to this system.