Freedom of Movement

Posted: Tuesday - August 27, 2013

Diadra Empty Cover Logo

Freedom of Movement

by Ian Wilson

Diadra Empty plants us in the shoes of Nyalra in a quest to find her sister. Her only companion is her trusty friend Minimi, who just happens to be a rather powerful breed of dragon. Along the way she must face hordes of enemies and huge bosses. While this might sound like the setup for a JRPG, Nylara’s quest is instead played out as a bullet hell shooter that is rather unique. The most unique feature is the freedom of movement that is afforded to Nyalra and Minimi.

Shooters tend to follow a pattern in terms of movement; you are either going up the screen or across the screen. There are some variations to this, in terms of angles, but you are generally moving from one point to another. There are some games, like Diadra Empty, that break out of this mold.

Let’s go back to 1980, back when the arcade was king and the only way to play your favorite games was to have a pocket full of quarters. It is this year that Williams Electronics released first SHMUP to do away with point to point scrolling. This game was called Defender.

In Defender, the player can switch directions as they blast aliens from the sky and rescue civilians from the ground. To help the player keep track of the action, which is taking place over a wide area, there is a mini-map at the top center of the screen. All of these elements come together in what is a very unique experience, especially when it first came to the arcades.

This freedom of movement has been mimicked by a lot of games, but mostly those dealing with protagonists on foot or vehicles that are on land. However, there is a series of games that follows the tried and true format of horizontal shooters while still giving the player the ability to change the direction their ship faces. This series is, of course, Darius.

The Darius series is known for its aquatic themed enemies and large bosses. It is during many of these boss fights that the player will need to change their heading to the opposite direction so that they can fight back. There are a few other games that allow for this, but Darius is definitely a key example.

Now, if you take elements from both of those games, Defender and Darius, and apply them to one game you get the base mechanic for Diadra Empty: A game in which you are able to fly freely through a large stage while changing your facing at will to take on the onslaught of enemies. This combination gives the game a distinctive feel while still having a strong base in the world of shooters that came before it.

Check out the Diadra Empty game page to buy or demo