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Nova Drift – Indie gem and pure distillation of everything I love about roguelikes

By this point pretty much everyone reading this post knows what a roguelike is, the genre has exploded over the past couple of years. For me and many others the condensed, repetitive formula works because it allows for a more condensed game loop experience in shorter, bite sized increments that are easier to work in between 40 hour work weeks than longer, more linear campaign based titles while offering the same amount of depth, challenge and progression. On a more personal level of preference there are two things specifically I look for in a good rogulike:

  1. Creative and strategic build paths as a form of skill expression (ex: Slay the Spire with it's wildly diverse deckbuilding)

  2. Emphasis on action and progression with minimal downtime (ex: Dead Cells where you can easily be back on a new run within seconds after dying)

I recently discovered Nova Drift on Steam the other day and it easily meets both criteria better than any other roguelike I've ever played. Conceptually it's a top down 2d arcade space shooter, basically a modern day Asteroids in roguelike format with skilltrees. You start off with a basic ship, a shield that protects your healthbar and a nondescript projectile weapon. Enemies and obstacles start floating into the screen and for the first few waves they're pretty harmless. Occasionally however they'll drop precious sparkling experience orbs, which fill up a meter that lets you level up and pick a new perk. The first ten or so levels happen EXTREMELY fast, I'm talking sometimes less than 10 seconds apart, and the first three level ups offer you a choice of wildly diverse weapons, shields and hull modifiers in that respective order. After you pick your hull type each levelup offers you a semi-randomized selection of 8 perks (you have a limited amount of rerolls but you can earn more from rare enemy drops) out of a massive pool. By far my favorite part about Nova Drift is how WILDLY game altering these perks can be, I've played 65 hours and I'm still discovering new ways to exploit synergies and strategies I'd never even considered before. Dying doesn't even feel bad because it just means another chance to try a completely new wacky strategy and see how it goes. I'm absolutely in love with this game and the only complaint is how often I lie to myself saying I'm only going to play "one more run".

Read more:  Games I've finished this year

One last disclaimer, technically the game is still early access but as far as I'm concerned for 15$ it definitely has full release value. The devs just put out a huge content update last December and appear to be actively engaging with the community and sticking to their roadmap too so it doesn't look like it's going anywhere in the near future.


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