Like with our review for Explosive Jake, we’ll start by saying that Null Drifter is a simple game. Because of that, this will be a simple review. Developed by Panda Indie Studio, the makers of Red Death, Null Drifter is a twin-stick shooter that will put your projectile dodging skills to the test.
Priding itself on its minimalism, the 1-bit graphics are a throwback to the early days of gaming. This is true for the gameplay mechanics as well, which consist of three different controls: movement, shooting, and dashing. This all takes place within short levels that finish with a boss, before advancing to the next level. Temporary power ups such as an extra life, damage increase, and rate of fire increase can be picked up at random by killing enemies. All of these and more can also be boosted permanently by using coins that are collected during gameplay. The permanent upgrades are one of the very few modern aspects in an otherwise very retro game. But in the end, is it worth taking this trip down memory lane?
There are numerous color palettes to choose from, providing the player with quite a bit of visual variety. Terminal, the black and green one, was a personal favorite. The mellow music does a good job of offsetting the chaos that takes place on screen as well. For the trophy and achievement hunters, it’s quick and easy to finish it up in one sitting. It only took 24 minutes to accomplish all of them. Sadly, this means the Nintendo Switch version only has portability as a selling point.
The game is far too easy. The permanent upgrades really accentuate this belief. With extremely repetitive enemies, bosses, and in game visuals, replayability is fairly low. There is an online leaderboard system to address this issue, but it doesn’t solve it.
If you’re looking for a quick retro-inspired romp, you could do a lot worse than Null Drifter. It does provide moments of joy when the dash mechanic clicks, and you’re able to annihilate the competition without even taking a scratch. However, you’ve essentially done everything the game has to offer within 30 minutes.