According to this post on the Soft Landing developer’s diary, an alpha version of the game has been made available to select sites for perusal. HD is one of them. First impressions inside!
I have to preface this review with the disclaimer that I don’t have much experience with reflex-based games in general, including SHUMPs/STGs. I know nothing about the “scene” aside from a mild interest in Cave and Touhou titles, and am thus uniquely unqualified to be writing this; that said, if you’re interested in the impressions of a callow newb, by all means do read on.
Having seen the screenshots and gameplay video my appetite was whetted to experience the game itself, and while still in the early stages of development (lacking in music, some sound effects and character dialogue) I can say that it’s looking Very Good.
After loading the startup screen and starting a new game I was greeted by Captain Brianne Light Breen, who seemed disappointed that I hadn’t been briefed on the current mission. She let me choose a weapon from among four options regardless, and without further ado I was thrust into the heat of battle. And promptly died.
I ended up dying a lot before finishing the first stage (read: having a friend with some skills over who managed to finish it instead of me), but the deaths were fun, in a masochistic “beaten to death by pinkish spheres” sort of way. Being the more plodding gamer that I am I’m hoping to see the novel sections of the game fleshed out more, and perhaps the addition of a super-easy mode that would let those of us in it for the story have a chance of passing through levels without actually becoming good at it first.
Combat-wise the game seems quite polished already, and everything moves and feels like it should – the mechanics are simple, but the varied choice of weapons and ability to control your ally pod in strategic ways makes play a good bit more engaging than holding down “fire” and endlessly dodging bullets. Whining about the difficulty aside, I could see myself enjoying the learning process necessary to become competent.
Final analysis: Soft Landing in its alpha stage is a very pretty game (and fun too, right up until the last pink sphere of death), one that will be even better when augmented with music and and a plot that will bring the combat some meaning. Kudos to Jules and fetjuel for all their hard work thus far, and here’s hoping for a swift progression to beta!