Review: Driven Out

She was on her farm, taking care of her animals and crops. An innocent peasant. When suddenly she finds herself in great danger and needs to guard her life using a long sword found lying on the ground. Forced out of her property, she’s now in a perilous world in turmoil and will need your help to survive! And this, my friends, is Driven Out, the new game from the Swedish indie studio No Pest Productions.

Driven Out is a 2D side-scrolling adventure with astonishing pixel art with great inspiration on games from the 16-bit era. Playing as a nameless peasant, you will fight humans, animals and mythical beasts wielding nothing more than a sword and a mysterious gadget, a magical contraption that creates an exact copy of your character when you fall in battle. Let’s not wait any longer and, like this game, jump straight to our review!

What do you do? You walk your way in this side-scrolling adventure fighting countless enemies in melee combat while admiring its beautiful environments. The main accomplishment of the game resides in the combat itself, where you defend, parry and counterattack your adversaries in tough fights worthy your favorite Souls game.

The copies generated by the magical contraption works as checkpoints, from where you can continue your adventure

What we liked!

  • Extraordinary visuals: When I said the game has astonishing visuals I wasn’t overreacting. Enemies and characters are very well constructed and interesting, but the scenarios are the stars in this show. Unfortunately, the few screenshots in this review won’t do it enough justice, but they were able to catch a glimpse of what you will see: amazing and vivid environments in different climates and locations that will catch your eye! Enemy models are well detailed and have great animations. Although the same can’t be said about our heroine, who walks like she’s galloping, the overall visual quality of this game is impressive!
  • Gameplay: The gameplay of Driven Out revolves around the combat. When facing an enemy, if you have the slightest intention of succeeding, you must observe their attack patterns and acting corresponding: parrying, defending and counter-attacking in one of three positions: upper, middle or down. Yes, you can try to have the initiative, but more than often the enemies will be swifter and deadlier than you. So please hold the Conan the barbarian that lives inside of you and try a more passive approach this time, will ya? Combat here is really challenging and defeating your enemies feels as incredible as beating the final boss of any other adventure. Go with the flow and enjoy the adventure.
  • Sound: The music and sound effects that give rhythm to this adventure are very good. They intensify the pressure when you get close to bigger enemies, creating the perfect atmosphere for your adventure! The sound effects are pretty interesting: the sound of metal clashing when you defend or parry enemy attacks is very convincing and will please the more demanding ears.
  • Enemies: Yes, your enemies will receive a bullet point for themselves because they are really amazing! There’s so much variety in their style regarding visuals and attack patterns. Different from most of the side-scrolling games, you will face each enemy no more than a couple times – but trust me: encountering each one of them just once is more than enough!
  • Never stop the adventure: Something very interesting is the pace of your adventure: there aren’t loadings between stages: you go from one area to another (which work as stages) with no loading screens. Such a great achievement!
Come here, doggy

Somewhere between

  • When combat becomes unfair: The combat in Driven Out is really challenging. If you fall in battle, you always know that it’s due to your own mistakes. Except when you are surrounded by enemies. When it happens, sometimes enemies take turns attacking you, which gives an opportunity to deal with them one enemy after the other. But most of times, they will just play ping-pong with you, with no chance for you to recover from their attacks. When it happens, please don’t get angry: just wait for them to eliminate you and restart your adventure from your last checkpoint.
  • Time to learn something new…maybe? As you advance in the game, you will constantly feel like you will learn a new skill, magic attack, ability or even find new equipment for your adventurer. But nope, not this time. In Driven Out you will go from the beginning to the end of the game carrying the same equipment and using the same attack (and defense) patterns. And this feels like a missed opportunity to add more content to the gameplay. How I wish to see our heroine learn to dodge and roll enemy attacks…
Oh, no! One of the Furious Five!

What we disliked

  • Constant frame drops: Fighting one enemy is tough but fighting more than one enemy at the same time becomes much more difficult. Especially due to frame drops that make parrying the attacks almost impossible. Since the game is pretty simple, I cannot see why there are so frequently frame drops in your adventure.
  • Lack of a story: It may not bother every one of you, but I really missed a story in this game. I understand it has that same pace of games from the 16-bit era: get into action as soon as you turn the game on. But the reasons and motives for you to be chased away from your home, to be attacked by men and monsters indistinctly and how a peasant can wield a sword with so much dexterity are all a mystery to me.
A bear, an elk and a Shaman… This one looks like a fair fight!

Rating:

68%

Driven Out is a game as challenging as it is beautiful. The astounding world created by No Pest Productions will impress those who love pixel art (a crime that I confess I’m guilty of), with its stirring atmosphere and engaging combat mechanics. A few elements could have been more polished, like our character animations and its sometimes frustrating frame drops, or new elements could have been added to the gameplay, like new skills and abilities, but I see the lack of story to keep you engaged with the adventure as its main flaw. If you want a straight game that puts you right into action as soon as you start your adventure and can overpass its leak of meaningfulness, Driven Out is something I’m sure you will enjoy.

Written by Rafael

Xbox writer for LifeisXbox

Between an Excel spreadsheet and trying to conquer the world (one game at a time), he’s ready to share his experiences about every title he plays. Be it to praise a game or to bash it, you will always find an honest opinion in his texts.