Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours is the latest entry to the Darius series, the long-running arcade shooter that has been around for nearly 30 years. Chronicle Saviours is a frantic and beautiful game that does an amazing job of capturing the essence of the arcade and putting it in the palm of your hand.
But it also has a number of flaws that prevents it from being a truly great game.
Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours is a space-based shooter in which the enemies you face are all designed after marine creatures (no, not space marines, but like fish in space. I know, it’s wild for me as well). A typical level will have you shooting swarms of aquatic-themed spaceships while collecting power-ups and score multipliers before facing off against a giant battle-fish… er, battleship. Once the battleship is defeated, you’ve secured the sector and move on to the next level.
And there are a lot of sectors to secure. People who complain about lack of content in games need to look no further than Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours. The story mode part of the game, Chronicle Saviours, features hundreds of stages to unlock and beat. Then there is the Another Chronicles part of the game which features over 3000 levels to play in four different modes. You can choose from a variety of ships and even customize your ship with upgrades you get along the way. You want more? Dariusburst will give you more.
Except sometimes more isn’t better. Sometimes more is just more, and that’s really how I felt about Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours. You can only face off against so many fish-themed spaceships before a sense of déjà vu kicks in and you feel like you’ve already seen this one before. A game doesn’t have to have thousands of levels if most of them just feel like filler. Yes, things change and the tactics needed to defeat new enemies have to be changed up at times, but after 60-70 levels, things just start to blend together.
The game is broken up into two main parts. The first is titled Another Chronicle, a mode which provides the full arcade experience. The other is the story-based Chronicles Saviour section, with a typical level progression system that feels at home on a console. Each mode slightly changes up the way the game is played, but more to the point, one is great and one is a mess.
The Another Chronicle mode tries to capture the feeling of the arcade cabinet on the Vita. This sounds great except for the fact that the Darius arcade games are known for their double-wide screens. To do this on the Vita, the game letterboxes the screen and shrinks everything down to fit. It takes what is already a small screen and makes it even smaller. Everything becomes hard to see, and text is nearly illegible. It ruins the experience and after awhile, it makes it a chore to play.
On top of that, the game also teases you with a multiplayer mode which doesn’t exist. It doesn’t matter how long you stare at the screen which is flashing “Accepting players” because they’re not coming. There is no multiplayer in the Vita port of the game. That’s disappointing since this mode was designed around the idea of multiplayer, so its absence is substantial. This, combined with the shrunken screen, means that over half of the game’s content is inherently crippled.
Then on the other hand you have the Chronicle Saviours mode which is an absolute blast to play. It is a first-class shooter that looks the part. The environments are stunning to look at, and even when dozens of enemy ships are flying around the screen, the performance never stutters. The thrill of building up a score muliplier while dodging enemy fire is second to none, and even if there are a few too many “filler” levels, it’s still well worth playing.
The controls are another area where the game absolutely nails it. The left stick or the D-pad will allow you to fly your ship while Square acts as your fire button. Then to fire your burst weapon, you just need to roll your thumb down a bit and tap Cross. The right shoulder button will flip your ship to shoot behind you while the left shoulder button activates the alternative burst weapon. Learning to use the burst cannon effectively is the major tactical challenge in the game, and key to surviving many of the enemy encounters.
At the end of the day there are two questions that come to mind: Is this game worth your money? And is this game worth your time? When you compare it to other games in this genre that are already available, it’s really hard to justify a $40 price tag since so much of the game is lost in the Vita port. But otherwise, yes, it is definitely worth your time. Also, the game is compatible with the PlayStation TV (which makes the super widescreen sections a bit more tolerable), and it is also cross-save compatible with the PS4 version, but not cross-buy.
Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours is a great space arcade shooter that both looks and performs amazing on the Vita. It’s biggest problems are that it overstays its welcome a bit, and half of the game is wedged into a tiny screen that makes it a pain to play. But if you’re looking for a good arcade shooter, then Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours is a safe choice.