Habroxia 2 is a classic arcade shoot ‘em up going for a beautifully retro aesthetic. Like its predecessor Habroxia from 2019, it is developed by Lillymo Games and published by East Asia Soft. Habroxia 2’s arcade-style gameplay is very unique and fun. While the arcade shooter has been done a hundred times, this one has a lot to offer. There are 60+ upgrades you can buy with credits earned from levels, from ability upgrades to raising your defense and HP. Besides the upgrades, you can also unlock different ships to play as on your adventure.
Habroxia 2’s controls are fantastic, they are responsive, and feel very intuitive. The levels are well designed, and there is a huge variety in enemies, mechanics, and visuals. There are a ton of secrets hidden in the levels, from secret routes to different final bosses. This strongly encourages you to go back and replay these levels. Throughout the levels, there are a ton of power-ups, abilities, and other valuable resources always dropping which keep things fresh constantly.
Habroxia 2 has lots of quality content to offer too. You could easily sink a hundred hours into completing the game or mastering the combat. The game is always throwing something new at you. There is a huge variety of enemies, bosses, and mechanics. Even after you do all that, the game also offers a New Game+ mode for even more content.
The main issue with the gameplay, and by extension the entire game is the accessibility and difficulty. There are no difficulty modes or options, and the levels are pretty long with no checkpoints. I don’t have a problem with struggling or grinding to beat something, but not when every attempt takes so long. I was having a ton of fun with this game, but it took me almost 45 minutes just to beat the first level. Technically I was grinding credits with each failed run, which would allow for upgrades, but the credit drop was way too slow to help me out. There was no dynamic difficulty scaling, nor any options to help me out. In addition, I thought I was doing pretty okay but the entire game felt like it was discouraging me and telling me I was doing bad.
On the flip side, if you are amazing at these types of games or you master them quickly, there is no way to make things harder for yourself. To me, this lack of difficulty in scaling makes the audience for this game pretty narrow. I played for about five hours and I could only beat 3 five minute levels. This was so frustrating and discouraging when I was enjoying everything else so much. On the flip side, the game isn’t as brutally hard as many other games of this genre, for example, the acclaimed Gradius series is way harder. So if you are amazing at these types of games, you master this game or for any other reason find it too easy, then there is no way to increase the difficulty. So not only is it restrictive to less skilled players, but it also isn’t very welcoming to masters either.
The presentation of Habroxia 2 is gorgeous and charming. The entire game is going for a retro arcade aesthetic, and it nails it. The pixel art is adorable and incredibly well done. Meanwhile, music is energetic and done in classic arcade chiptune style. The cute pixel characters and the simple storytelling was incredibly endearing and charming. However, as I noted above, I could only beat 3 short levels so I have no idea how the story and quality of the writing is. I was very intrigued by what I saw, and I was compelled to see it play out. But as I said before, despite my engagement the inaccessibility and difficulty block me and other more casual players from enjoying this game.
Overall, Habroxia 2 is an amazing game, but only amazing for a very limited audience. You can only enjoy this game if you love grinding or you are amazing at these classic arcade shooters. It should be noted that brutally hard games of this genre have found critical success, such as the Gradius series. Although the same inaccessibility and limited audience apply, most people could never beat Gradius. Anyone who wants to experience a full playthrough of these brutal games should either watch a run online or dedicate serious time to master it themselves. If you are looking for a wonderful game and the difficulty doesn’t scare you, I can’t recommend it enough. Otherwise, if you are like me, the only way you could ever experience this game is by watching a YouTube playthrough.
Score: 8 out of 10
Reviewed On PlayStation 4