Over the past year I began getting into the shoot-em-up genre (shortened to “shmup”). I’ve played tons of them on various systems and when I saw DARIUSBURST Chronicle Saviours on Steam, I couldn’t believe what I was reading in the description. Support for the 32:9 aspect ratio, multiple modes, 4-player local co-op, and thousands of stages (yeah, thousands), I immediately bought the game and set up a second monitor.
Like previous Darius games, DARIUSBURST is a horizontal scrolling shooter with robotic fish-like enemies to blow away. There are nine ships to choose from with variants from previous games. Visually, I found this game underwhelming but considering the amount of content here, the visuals are easily overlooked. DARIUSBURST Chronicle Saviours is an enhanced release containing all of the content from the original DARIUSBURST on PlayStation Portable, Another Chronicle for Arcade, and Second Prologue for iOS and Android. The music is definitely unique, but not in a bad way, making this truly feel like a Darius game.
DARIUSBURST contains several game modes, the most interesting being Chronicle Mode. With over 3000 stages, you will be playing for a while. When you start the game, you’re assigned a cabinet (which you can manually change) and other players from around the world may be playing on this cabinet as well so if they unlock a stage it becomes unlocked for you as well. It’s a great feature and kind of made me feel as if I’m part of this huge universe. Now just because there are thousands of stages doesn’t mean they are all unique. You will encounter the same enemies and bosses over and over again. Each stage just presents a new layout and challenge. With that said, hardcore shmup fans may not care but others may find it repetitive. Next we have AC mode which is a recreation of the arcade game with branching paths and all. This mode comes is divided into two other modes; Original and Original EX. Original is the standard arcade campaign and Original EX is a harder version. Finally, there’s CS mode, a single player campaign with over 200 stages. Needless to say, there’s tons of replayability here. However, like Chronicle Mode, each stage is not unique but presents a different layout and challenge so prepare to fight the same enemies and bosses.
The gameplay in DARIUSBURST is fantastic and you don’t need to be a shmup veteran to play. It’s very approachable to newcomers and the difficulty is balanced nicely. Some stages are easy and others will have you dying over and over again. Even if you are having trouble on a particular stage, you’ll never feel stuck with so many other stages and modes you can always come back to it later. Each of the nine ships contain different weaponry so finding one to suit your playstyle won’t be hard. The bosses are massive and memorizing their attack patterns is crucial for victory. Earlier stages in each mode may make you feel as if the game is too easy but you’ll be frantically dodging and shooting soon enough and there’s definitely enough content here to keep you playing for a very long time.
DARIUSBURST Chronicle Saviours is a massive game. It’s packed with a shit-ton of content so if you’re a shmup fan, it’s worth every penny. Hopefully, future games of the genre can match up in content and in gameplay. I played the Steam version and I would highly recommended playing DARIUSBURST with a 32:9 monitor or a dual-monitor set up for the best experience and it supports up to 6880 x 1440 resolution. Being faithful to the arcade game, AC and Chronicle Mode take advantage of the 32:9 aspect ratio and if playing on 16:9 monitor the action will be scaled down to fit and in letterbox format so it may be too small to see what’s going on. However, various users have reported playing on a single screen without an issue. No matter how you decide to play, the game is still a blast.