Stardrytch Review – Sci-Fi Fantasy Adventure Meets Tough Linear Platformer

Developed By: Nils Kastens

Published By: Nils Kastens

Genres: 2D Action Platformer

Thank you so much to Nils Kastens for providing a review code.

Most of my video game library is indie games and because of that, I often find myself in awe when I see what a small team of people can do. Many indie devs only have teams of 20, 10, 5 and sometimes some brave developers even tackle a game completely on their own. Stardrytch is one of these projects developed solely by developer Nils Kastens. While the game does have its rough patches, it’s hard not to admire the finished product.

Game Summary

  • Stardrytch begins with our protagonist Lunaris who’s spaceship runs out of energy and crashes into an unknown land. Lunaris makes it out unscathed, but her energy suit that houses her powers is not. With the help of her AI companion Lunaris must traverse across this strange land to find energy crystals to restore her energy suit, fix her ship and go home.
  • Stardrytch is a 2D action platformer that has you fighting off against various aliens and monsters and avoiding dangerous traps.
  • After crashing into the unknown land Lunaris finds a strange looking sword that she uses in combat.
  • Your sword has a standard 3 hit combo that has two smaller slashes followed by a wide one. This is not only the first method of combat you have, but also the only form of melee combat.
  • As you progress farther in the story, Lunaris will pickup crystals and power up her suit to unlock more abilities. There’s a wide array of abilities that Lunaris has at her disposal.
  • Each ability usually leans more towards being combat oriented, movement oriented or a little bit of both. For example, when Lunaris finds her first crystal she gets her energy blast back. This ability allows her to concentrate energy into a ball and blasts it at enemies. This serves as your main form of ranged combat and honestly, is much safer then slashing enemies with your sword.
  • Some of the other available abilities include a teleportation dash, wings that allow you to glide and a beam attack that attacks enemies on screen.
  • Platforming in Stardrytch is focused on precision movements and careful timings. Most of the obstacles besides enemies are bottomless pits and spikes that will kill you immediately once touched. This is where Stardrytch shows its tough nature, because the platforming can be ruthless.
  • On the bright side, each level is broken up into its own sections and when you die Lunaris restarts at the entrance to the last section. Each of these sections are usually only a few minutes, so dying never sets you back too far.
  • Stardrytch is broken up into levels that you can select on a world map. The first locations will mostly throw relatively simple enemies at you along with normal platforming challenges.
  • However, once you have made it pass the first 3 levels Stardrytch throws obstacles all over the place. Every platforming challenge after will involve timing jumps on moving platforms to dodge spikes, or dashing across chasms trying to make it to cover to avoid a rain of projectiles.
  • I’m serious, when I say that Stardrytch throws a variety of challenges at you and says “well goodluck”. That being said you do have everything at your disposal to be successful against these challenges.
  • The crossover of sci-fi and fantasy can’t be seen any better then in the designs of the enemies. Each area has their own diverse set of enemies that you’ll battle with. As an example, the first set of levels has you fight off against mutant plants and alien soliders and such. The next set of levels, however sees you fighting against a skeleton army that protects the castle of the Skeleton King.
  • Besides the usual enemies at the end of a set of levels you’ll come to a boss. There’s a handful of bosses across the whole game and they follow specific patterns for each of their attacks. While, I wouldn’t say they’re easy the bosses have relatively limited movepools and after a few tries you probably won’t have too much trouble with them.
  • Levels are designed to be linear for the most part, but some have multiple paths that can be taken. Often, a level will have a secret blue or red crystal that can be found by exploring beyond the beaten path.
  • Speaking of collectibles, Stadrytch has 3 main collectibles. The first are the Dark Energy Orbs, that act as a currency to buy upgrades. Early in the game you meet a woman named Axotas who you can trade the orbs with for magic upgrades. These upgrades are broken into a few different categories with varying costs. The upgrades are sword damage, beam damage, beam speed, health regeneration and beam tracking.
  • The other collectibles are the blue and red crystals which there are 7 of each in total. Finding all 7 of each of these will power-up your magic sword with a new ability.
  • Stardrytch’s visuals are a nice cartoony hand drawn design with 3D backgrounds and environments that pop-out in front of you. All of the designs be it Lunaris’s, the enemies or the environments are brimming with character.
  • The sound design is a bit of a mixed bag. I actually really enjoyed the soundtrack and felt that track contributed well to its specific set of levels. The sound effects, however are quite limited and hearing the same sound effect of Lunaria screaming every time you die is not pleasant.
  • 15 achievements to unlock and will require at least 2 playthroughs to complete them all.
  • One playthrough of Stardrytch will take a player anywhere from 4-6 hours. The difference in time is depending on if you struggle or not with certain levels and if you want to collect everything.

Pros

  • Tough but satisfying platforming design
  • Tons of cool abilities to unlock
  • Great mashup of a sci-fi & fantasy setting
  • Hand-crafted visuals that mix 3D backgrounds against the 2D visuals very well.
  • Diverse level design that doesn’t grow stale.
  • Collectibles actually encourage exploration.
  • Useful upgrades that don’t feel too grindy to purchase.
  • Exciting & energizing soundtrack.
  • Death doesn’t punish you too bad and you often only lose a few minutes of progress.

Neutral

  • Boss designs are good but could have had more flair to them.
  • The narrative is pretty light
  • There’s a significant spike in difficulty after the first few levels. This can be chalked up to the fact that the first few levels are preparing you for what’s to come. However, those offput by a jump in difficulty may be bothered by this.

Cons

  • Slightly wonky hitboxes on attacks and traps
  • Attack animations can look a bit stiff at times.
  • Gameplay is too reliant on one hit kill obstacles such as spikes. In a game where you have a health bar it can be frusturating to die instantly from hitting a single spike.
  • Lunaria’s ranged attacks are very spammable, due to the lack of any sort of ammo or mana to use them.
  • Small pool of sound effects get irritating after awhile

Final Thoughts

Story
Gameplay
Visuals & Sound
Accessibility
Bang For Your Buck/Replayability
Unique Game Design

My Purchase Price: Buy At ($10-$15) (Note prices are in USD)

6.5/10

Stardrytch was a relatively enjoyable experience from beginning to end. The work that has gone into making Stardrytch is apparent just from the first few levels you play. Of course, the game isn’t perfect and could have used a bit more polishing on the hitboxes and attack animations, but it doesn’t hold the game back from being fun. The overreliance on instant deaths from falling onto spikes is definitely a little off-putting and hurts gameplay significantly. All that being said, I hope this game doesn’t fly under the radar, because I think it’s worth a look for any action-platforming fans looking for a challenge. Not to mention it’s just hard to overlook the fact that this was all put together by just one person, and that’s pretty amazing.

Steam Link: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1622830/Stardrytch/




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.