SHMUPs are one of the oldest video game genres, which means that new games in this space really need something to stick out from the crowd. Dimension Drive had the idea to put its SHMUP on two screens, letting you warp between them at will. This is the exact kind of idea that will draw people into the game, a unique twist on the genre that I haven't seen before. Are the two screens just a gimmick, or does Dimension Drive really offer something special?
Each level in Dimension Drive displays on two screens, and at any time you can switch between them. Each screen has its own enemies, power-ups, level layouts, and energy bar. You can only take a limited amount of shots on each screen, with your ammo recharging when you're not on that screen. Since running low on ammo stops your score multiplier, staying on one screen is only going to put you at a massive disadvantage. If you want high scores, you want to keep switching screens.
Even if you don't care about your score, swapping to another screen is vital for dodging attacks or collecting power-ups. Letting you dodge an entire screen allows Dimension Drive to get creative in how it handles attacks. A beam can sweep the entire screen rather than having to stop at specific areas because of needing to give you a safe zone. This continues into creative boss fight design. Can't hit a boss because he has a shield? Teleport to the other screen where you can get yourself inside that shield with the boss. Just make sure you get yourself out of there once it starts to close the shield around it.
This creative central mechanic is really the highlight of the game, which is good because the rest of the game still needs a bit of work. It's expected for an Early Access game, but there's not quite enough content here yet. At the current time, Dimension Drive has eight levels to play alongside a tutorial, and each level takes about five minutes to complete. There's two boss fights (one every fourth level), and a few different kinds of enemies. There's also a single weapon upgrade that converts your gun from a single shot into a spread shot.
All of this works fine, but it isn't anything too different from what other entries into the genre offer. That's not a bad thing since the real star is the central mechanic and that's what makes the encounters in the game unique even when the rest of the mechanics feel run of the mill. It just needs more variety than it has right now. More weapons, more enemies, more stages, all of that. Dimension Drive is one of those games that will hopefully benefit greatly from its time in Early Access.
There's also the start of a story here. You play as Jack who, accompanied with her AI buddy V.E.R.A., need to stop an alien invasion. It's not really a plot I see going much of anywhere, but maybe the full game will have some story elements that leave me surprised. At the very least it does a good enough job of making me pay attention.
New content is planned for Dimension Drive as it continues its trip in Early Access. As expected, new enemies, stages, bosses, abilities, and more are planned. There's also a bonus for people who buy into the game while it's still in Early Access: Multiverse levels. These biweekly challenge levels see you competing with other players to try and get the most points. These challenge levels will only be available whiel the game is in early access, so if it sounds like a thing you'd be interested in then I'd suggest jumping in.
I really don't have too much more to say on Dimension Drive, but I am honestly really excited to see the game's full release. I don't know if this will be the next Velocity 2X that totally makes me rethink how SHMUPs work, but it will be one that provides a really neat twist and that I can see greatly enjoying.
Dimension Drive was previewed on PC via Steam using a copy provided by the developer.