Driven Out, both developed and produced by No Pest Productions, is a side-scrolling tactical combat game. Though the graphics are reminiscent of the 16-bit era, there’s a complete lack of storyline, and gameplay that is very easy to understand; don’t be fooled into thinking the game will be a breeze – anything but. The background music is not too memorable, and the sound effects are your standard swords clinking and the usual dying groans.
The game starts as abruptly as it is simple to look at. You see our character, long hair swinging around from doing a bit of farming in the background. Suddenly, a weird lantern object falls from the sky and your protagonist goes to check it out, and picks it up. As soon as they do, a black knight runs on the screen and tumbles over, their sword flying out of their hands, landing at your feet. You proceed to pick it up – although it looks too heavy for your character to wield. The black knight then drags himself up and pulls out a long staff. Suddenly, you are now in combat with this knight who proceeds to whack you with the staff. You sustain no damage, thankfully, as this is our brief tutorial before getting into the action proper.
You soon learn that you have 3 attacks; high, medium and low. You can also block high, medium and low. The knight whacking you with the staff is subtly hinting for you to defend yourself by blocking at the same height that he is attacking you. But as soon as you try to hit him with the sword he scampers off, and thus, the game truly begins. There is no explanation of what the lantern is or why it appears in the top left corner. After reading the controls, I see that pressing down on the d-pad drops the contraption. So, to see what happens I place it on the ground and it suddenly it looks like it is trying to 3D print my character. Except nothing else seem to actual happen.
It is only when you scamper your way forward with the big lumbering sword and encounter an enemy that you realise the true difficulty of the game. With only 3 hit points and a lack of understanding, I was quickly dispatched by the enemy. Suddenly, the purpose of the lantern becomes clear; I find myself quickly respawning where I had dropped it. However, it’s use is limited, so you will want to proceed a lot further before dropping it for better chances of progressing in the game. Not only that, but I noticed the enemy having a swipe at it too. Should they manage to break it, you will have to go right back to the start if you perish again.
That is pretty much it for the story and gameplay. Just enemy after enemy until you reach a boss. These thankfully have their own checkpoints after you defeat them – if you can defeat them, that is. This game is purely about pattern memorisation and reflexes and unfortunately, it focuses too much on the latter. Every enemy is difficult until you work out their attack pattern, and then it becomes focused solely on timing to block just before they attack to parry them and then get your attacks in. But if your timing is a millisecond off, you will receive a whack. With only 3 hits before you die you need to constantly be on your A-game. Be prepared to die a lot as this game gets tough and frustrating very quickly. Thankfully the reload time after you die is quick so it keeps the game quite fluid.
But what they lack in your own character development or any storyline at all, they make up for in enemy variety. For better or worse, you will rarely fight the same type of enemy more than a few times. Each new enemy brings a different attack pattern to learn and new tricks to be aware of. For example, there are werewolves who run toward you before teleporting behind you. You not only have to use a tab button to turn around, but then need to block at the right level. Some enemies after you hit them will increase their attack speed, testing your reflexes even more than before. Unfortunately, there is no option to make the game any easier which is a shame. Having a few extra hit points or slower enemies to allow those less patient/skilled to progress would have been great to see. Then they could have also taken it the other way – make it harder by only having 1 hit point, for example, for those looking for an extra challenge.
All in all, Driven Out is a very challenging game and offers good enemy variety and will test your reflexes. But with no backstory or any kind of storyline, it is hard to bond with your protagonist. There is some fun to be had in the sense of achievement by progressing in such a tough game, where it can take you an hour or more to progress past the same 3 or 4 enemies. But constantly dying against the same foe grows old very fast.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.