It’s one of the oldest genres around, but you can’t go wrong with a good old-fashioned shoot ’em up.
Every once in a while though, a game like Habroxia 2 comes along that tries something a little bit different with the formula. It’s an old-school space shooter at its core alright, but it also adds in a persistent upgrade system, branching paths and more, giving it a bit more depth than many of its peers.
It even has a story, one that finds a talented starpilot named Sabrina searching for her missing father, but it doesn’t bog you down with it. After the intro, you’re pretty much left to just shoot things, collect credits, upgrade your ship, and then shoot things again.
Upon getting you up to speed with a succinct tutorial, Habroxia 2 lets you loose on your first stage. Straight away you might find it a bit different to other shoot ’em ups you’ve played, as instead of your primary weapon shooting straight forward, you can aim a full 360 degrees with the right analogue stick. Essentially, then, Habroxia 2 is a scrolling twin-stick shooter. Your secondary weapons unfortunately can’t be aimed in a similar manner, however; starting out with just one option available, Vulcan, more secondary weapons are unlocked as you play through the game, and they can be unleashed from either the front or rear of your ship.
Of course, there are collectables, too. You’ll be thankful for the hearts that instantly restore a portion of your health and the credits that allow you to buy upgrades, but in the heat of the action you’ll be more grateful for the powerful lasers and bombs that allow you to unleash hell in a desperate situation. A duo of shields are also available, and let’s not forget fuel that allows you to boost forward, escaping damage and damaging enemies if they get in your way. Needless to say, there’s a lot going on in Habroxia 2, and unless you keep your wits about you, death can come extremely fast.
You shouldn’t feel disheartened by death, however. In fact, you should embrace it; accept it as a part of the experience. The difficulty varies from one stage to the next, and until you know exactly what you’re up against, taking damage is bound to happen. But every time you die or complete a stage you’re presented with the opportunity to spend your hard-earned credits and power up your ship as you see fit, perhaps making your next outing that bit more manageable. In fact, a stage can be absolutely kicking your ass, but one or two upgrades later it becomes no trouble at all.
Persistence, then, is key. And those who do persist might find themselves facing off against a fearsome end-game boss within a few hours. There are multiple of them, however, depending on the path you’ve chosen through the game, and so you’re not totally done until you’ve overcome them all. Even after that there’s more to do, thanks to New Game Plus and the unlockable Boss Rush and Boost Rush modes. Needless to say, you get a lot of bang for your buck with Habroxia 2.
It’s just a shame that its stages, that have you both moving horizontally and vertically, are a tad bland and samey. The same goes for its bosses, too. It doesn’t hamper the experience all that much, but as you move from one stage to the next you occasionally get the feeling of déjà vu. Still, Habroxia 2 is very much worth any shoot ’em up fans’ time and money. The gameplay is on point, and that is largely all that matters. Throw in some nifty unlockable modes and a bucketload of upgrades to unlock, and you have a game that offers serious old-school thrills along with some modern-day flair.
Habroxia 2 Review: GameSpew’s Score