Driven Out is a strange game. Like some European platformers from the early 1990s, this one is both mysterious and simple… but hard as hell.
You’ll play as a peasant girl once was attacked by an army of weird guys. One of the guys dies and the girl takes the dead guy’s sword to fight back. But fighting back is not easy whatsoever. The combat gameplay is similar to 2D Prince of Persia.
There are 3 points to hit: high hit, medium hit and lower hit. All 3 moves have the same speed and damage, making the fights looks like a rock, paper, scissor game. Sadly, the player can’t use any kind of fast move, making the gameplay very repetitive on later stages, which also forces the player to pay attention and learn the attackers’ animation routine for using the right block and the right attack at the right time.
The enemies are always on advantage during combat. They have more hit points, and more, many more moves. They’re also stronger and faster than the player. There’s no way to run or options for a more elaborated strategy to fight.
The game is always horizontal, which limits the fight sequences to duel combats. That being said, there’s no backstabbing or using the terrain in your favor. To be fair, you can stagger some enemies by blocking them at the right time, leaving your enemy vulnerable to take 2 hits in a row.
You only have 1 life but, you can use a device to create a “clone” that will rebirth the player. But, the device use is not unlimited and you only get to use it again when you kill a boss. The worse part is that the device can (and will be) attacked by enemies. In some cases, the enemies will focus on destroying the device first and the player last.
The controls are not bad, but I would recommend playing it with a proper controller instead of a keyboard. Most of the commands are designed for you to press more than one button at the same time, like blocking and running, for instance, and this always works better (for me at least) on a controller.
The graphics in Driven Out are nice! They reminds me of a combination of Shadow of the Beast with Prince of Persia. Most of the animations look like rotoscoped, but some are a let-down, like the enemies that walk like dolls moving their arms like crazy. The bosses animation are amazing. They’re really well done, with great details you’ll only notice as you fight them over and over (this will happen, don’t worry).
Some backgrounds are beautifully crafted, specially on the open areas. In the castles, forts, churches etc, they are kinda bland. The sound design, in my opinion, is the weakest part of the game. The music can be really repetitive some times, since their loops are really short. In 20 seconds you’ll get what the music in a certain area is about, but you will spend a minimum of 2 minutes to clear the way to the boss. This is when the songs start to get insanely boring. The sound effects are ok for most enemies, though, specially for human enemies.
Overall, Driven Out, by No Pest Productions, is a game for everyone looking for something like a 1980s Prince of Persia focused on combat and no puzzle. It can be charming for retro players looking for a something simple to learn, but hard to master. Anyway, give it a chance. It can be a surprisingly fun in short bursts.