Over the past two years, Lillymo Games have filled a Housemarque-sized whole for me. Housemarque hasn’t released a game in nearly four years, so great score attack games have become quite scarce on the PS4 and especially the surprisingly long-lasting PS Vita. Being a massive fan of the PS Vita, I typically go out of my way to find games worth playing on it, and luckily with Lillymo’s previous two titles in Habroxia and Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure, I have found just that: cheap games that don’t demand too much of your time but offer an amazing gameplay experience with a really nice platinum trophy to top it all off. And now, Habroxia 2 is here. Just a disclaimer, I am a patron of Colin Moriarty’s (the game’s co-producer and writer) Patreon.
The game begins with a short introductory cutscene and tutorial. You play as Sabrina, and after a little back and forth between Sabrina and her dad, Sabrina assumes full control of her own ship. The game is extremely light on story, but that’s a good thing; anything that takes you out of the action is a bad thing, in my books, when it comes to this type of game.
Habroxia 2 at its core is a twin-stick space shoot ’em up, harkening back to classic arcade games. The original Habroxia limited the player to shooting only where the ship was facing, which I felt detracted from the flow of the game. With the change in shooting style, Habroxia 2’s flow is smoother. Where the first Habroxia had you positioning to shoot projectiles, Habroxia 2 focuses more on dodging enemy projectiles, giving the game a more bullet hell slant, which I personally prefer. With more projectiles on-screen, I was constantly engaged and had an absolute blast running through the game.
The level structure has also been improved. There are multiple paths, each leading to its own end boss. Some levels have hidden paths that can be traversed by blowing a hole in a wall or taking a separate route, and there’s a boss at the end of each. Speaking of bosses, Lillymoensured that each one feels different, with Njord being a standout for me; a spherical boss that shoots different projectiles depending on what side you’re facing.
As you explore the many levels of Habroxia 2, you save astronauts, which act as this game’s main collectible. They are all relatively easy to find, but most of the time I killed them before I could get to them (luckily, there is a trophy to kill 10 astronauts, so my misplaced shots didn’t go unnoticed). There are also enemy bounties, which are unique variants of enemies that you must kill; these offered minimal challenge though as they were hard to miss. Apart from the alternate routes, levels usually took me one run through, where the majority of my playtime came from replaying levels for credits to upgrade my ship and to unlock the coveted platinum trophy.
Enemies, bosses, and asteroids drop credits upon being destroyed, which can be used to purchase upgrades for your ship. Upgrading my fire rate or shot spread was satisfying as they felt like proper upgrades. There was a remarkable difference in my ship from the beginning of the game to the end. I enjoyed upgrading my ship so much so that I have only a few more upgrades to buy.
From a presentation standpoint, Habroxia 2 absolutely knocks it out of the park. The beautiful pixel art pops, especially on the PS Vita’s OLED, and even with a large number of projectiles, the game never looked too busy. One specific shoutout I have to give is to Hangongetready’s music in Habroxia 2. The second I launched the game, the music had me bobbing my head. In particular, “Into Infinity” is hands down the best track in the game.
Outside of your typical twin-stick shooting, the game packs three additional modes: new game plus, boss rush, and boost rush mode. New game plus added a welcome couple more hours of gameplay and, of course, brought me one step closer to the platinum trophy. Boss rush mode is self-explanatory, and once I got the trophy tied to it, I had no desire to go back to it. Boost rush was no different; in this mode you move across the screen at a blistering pace having to dodge obstacles and squeeze through tight corridors to make it to the end of the level. Again, once I received the trophy, I didn’t look back.
As a sequel, Habroxia 2 improves upon the previous entry in the series in every possible way. Where Habroxia had menu-based level selection, the sequel has a world map level select screen. While it’s only a small addition, it added to the overall feeling of more quality. Branching paths added some depth and replayability to the levels. The change to a twin-stick shooter is my favourite improvement. The game was frantic fun that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a shoot ’em up.
Developer: Lillymo Games
Platforms: PC, PS Vita, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
Release Date: 3rd February 2021
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Habroxia 2 was provided by the publisher.