Ashlands: Retribution is a twitch dual-stick shooter that really ramps up the difficulty. It follows the trend of what might be considered Bullet Hell or Danmaku sytle of gameplay but with a few twists. At first glance, you might think of it as a Stardust HD-like game. There are asteroids and the game does take place on a spherical grid instead of the traditional 2D grid. But the similarities to all other frantic shooters end there.
Retribution’s meta-game mechanic is closer to an action-RPG than any similar shooter in the genre. The player must manage their energy much like he/she would manage mana usage. They must kill enemies to receive more energy while simultaneously exhausting that energy to kill more enemies. It’s actually a very addictive and tactical strategy in how you choose to play the game. In addition to this, the player has an array of upgrades.
Unlike other arcade shooters, Retribution focuses on the progression of the player and not the hopeless task of praying for the right power-ups to appear. Players are able to purchase augmentations much like an RPG player would increase the level of his magic missile. Death in Retribution becomes less important since your experience is maintained between play sessions. The more you play, the stronger you become; and you can reach some godly level of awesome strength in this game, if you clock in the time.
Honestly, my intent with this game is twofold; I wanted to create a shooter that had onion layers, something deeper than the 5 minutes of sweaty palm action that most people expect from these types of games. Sure, I checked that box but there is so much more. Second, I wanted to do something that I have yet to see from an Indie developer. I wanted to create a fully realized universe through a novel and a heart pumping game that lives in that universe; a little something for everyone. I’ve been working on this game and all of Ashlands for a long time and I hope that the final product will be proof of that.
In my opinion, Retribution is a polished game worthy of the LIVE Arcade Marketplace but with the budget price tag of an Indie Marketplace game. I think gamers will love it, and I hope you agree.