Habroxia 2 Review

Three things I like about this game, and two I don't


By Paul Hunter

Did you grow up with shoot 'em up classics like R-Type, Gradius and Darius Twin? Or enjoy modern shmups like Resogun, Caladrius Blaze or Raiden V? If you said yes to any of those games then you're sure to like Habroxia 2, a retro style shoot 'em up from Lillymo Games. The game is out now on PS4, PS Vita (yep!), Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PC.

Jump inside the cockpit, co-pilot, and let's discuss Habroxia 2—here are three things I liked about the game...and two I didn't.

Liked: The Ship Upgrades

The upgrade system is by far the best part about this game, it just kicks ass and encourages so much replay. Unlike most shmups that are brutally hard by design, Habroxia 2 actually wants you to feel more powerful as you play—ultimately making later runs easier. Don't get me wrong, I like a good challenge, but I also like how refreshing it is to play a shooter where I start out woefully weak and ten hours later I'm a spacefaring god.

The game rewards your invested time with credits that can be cashed in after completing every level. You can upgrade your firepower, shot speed, shot spread, ship health, secondary fire power, ship hyperspeed duration, and several one-time collectible powerups. Each of these upgrade options can be powered up between 3-15 times and there are 70 upgrades in total. What's great is if you encounter a particularly hard level you can choose to either keep replaying it to build your skills, or can you retreat to an earlier stage to collect more credits and power your ship up.

By around the three hour mark, replaying the first few levels makes you feel so incredibly powerful—previously hard zones become super easy to complete and are great for grinding credits. And you'll want to replay levels regardless because Habroxia 2 is just so fun to play. After I beat the game I was hoping for a greater challenge and even there this game delivers with a challenging New Game+ mode featuring more enemies, new enemies and enemies with more health. Beating it one more time unlocks New Game++, an even tougher mode that will push your maxed-out ship to the limit. The progression is just so satisfying, making this the perfect game to relax with if you've got an hour to spare, or are looking for a compact experience after finishing the latest 40-hour AAA blockbuster title.

Liked: The Non-Linear Map

Another cool aspect is the branching map that culminates in five different end-game bosses. Beat all those bosses and you'll unlock the true final boss and ending. A bunch of levels have multiple paths—reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. hidden exits—and it's fun to find them. The alternative paths have new bosses and often switch the action from side-scroller to vertical scroller, adding even more incentive to discover them, and beating each boss pops its own trophy achievement. Nearly all shmups I've played are linear, which makes the branching paths of Habroxia 2 feel novel and unique.

You'll want to replay levels regardless because Habroxia 2 is just so fun to play.

Liked: The Hyperspeed Ability

Your ship in Habroxia 2 features a hyperspeed mechanic that speeds you up and damages enemies. Both perks have huge advantages and really expands the gameplay. While boosting into hyperspeed, your spacecraft is invincible and this allows you to dart past bullet hell segments unscathed. You can also seriously damage enemies while boosting into them, destroying most in one hit. Dashing also damages end-stage bosses and lets you avoid their bullet barrages—a double whammy benefit.

I also like how essential hyperspeed becomes in New Game+ and NG++; on these harder modes the screen frequently gets filled with bullets and proper dash gauge management is the best way to survive levels. Hyperspeed is so useful it's one of those mechanics I hope other shmup developers incorporate into their future projects.

Didn't Like: No D-Pad Control

By default, Habroxia 2 is a twin-stick shooter and for the entire campaign it works nicely. However, beating the game unlocks Boost Rush, a hyper-fast mode where you need to navigate tight caves with plenty of hazards without taking any damage whatsoever. It's during this mode I really wished the game had the option to control your ship using the D-Pad: I personally find it much more precise and better suited for retro titles requiring pixel-perfect timing. I was able to clear Boost Rush and the harder Boost Rush 2 modes, but it's a real wonder why there's no D-Pad option—it would have made this mode more enjoyable.

Didn't Like: The Same-y, Super-Easy Bosses

Maybe I'm just that damn good (joking!) but I found the bosses in this game to be far too easy. I rarely died on bosses, even on the harder New Game+ mode where they have significantly more health. Just to emphasize how easy bosses are, there's a Boss Rush mode where you face them all one after another and I was able to beat it on my first try. I was also underwhelmed by the look and sizes of boss—I found the majority to be same-y both in look (medium-sized ships) and attacks. There's a handful of organic lifeform bosses that mixes things up, but otherwise the bosses simply blend into each other. This is in stark contrast to shmups like R-Type or Gradius that feature imposing, full-screen bosses in a variety of forms like snakes, dragons, large battleships, and lots of menacing organic alien creatures.

The Verdict

I've had a lot of fun playing Habroxia 2 on PS5. At only $10 it's a steal and certainly a must-play game for shoot 'em fans on every platform. You can get the Platinum trophy in about ten hours, so it's great for achievement hunters as well. I play a lot of longer games, so whenever I get fatigued and need a break it's great to know that Habroxia 2 will be there to jump into for some quick and fun arcade shmup action.

Final Score: 7.5/10 - Good

Habroxia 2 details

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PS Vita, PC
Developer: Lillymo Games
Publisher: Lillymo Games
Genre: Shoot 'em up, Arcade, Shooter
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

A key was provided by the publisher.