Developed by Climax Studios LTD and Published by Vision Games Publishing, Riftstar Raiders is a top down, twin-stick shooter looter with an RPG like progression system set-up primarily for four-player online co-operative play.
An Alien AI called the Warswarm have started a war with humanity and it is up to you to raid and loot your way to victory under the watchful eye of Betty Buchanan; an infamous raider who notices something special in you and enlists your help in pushing back the enemy through targeted strike missions against the Warswarm other raiders and the galaxy federation.
After warping in from parts unknown and not entirely sure how you got there; you arrive at a pirate junkyard where you soon pick up a distress beacon from Betty who is trapped behind enemy lines with no means of escape. This opening mission acts as your training mission as Betty guides you through the controls and starts to lay out the backstory about what is happening. Your ship controls are basic as you would expect for a game of this manner, with primary and secondary firing on your triggers, an evade roll on your left bumper and movement on your sticks with faster direct travelling on your left stick and slower more precise handling by using the right.
It doesn’t take long before you come across hostile sentry turrets and fighters that you must despatch before you get prompted to use your right bumper to activate a grappling beam that is used to rip open loot containers, tow objects and collect loot. Loot appears as different coloured orb-like containers that will replenish your health bar and shield, drop the in-game currency of Starbux and other rare green drops that contain perks and upgrades for your ship. Once you revive Betty’ ship using your grapple beam then holding the Y button for a few seconds, you must then make your escape whilst keeping an eye out for mines, deactivating a crusher and killing waves of enemies till the mission ends, then your new found friend introduces you to Arcadia, a one-stop hub which you will return to upon completion of your missions.
Once at Arcadia, you can upgrade and customize your ship quite extensively as long as you have collected enough Starbux and managed to keep your looted perks (which you do drop on death but can be collected again if you can get back to them.) Upgrades consist of choosing what weapons are in your primary and secondary slots, the type of shield systems you prefer to use, booster types as well as your ship and raider emblem, although despite owning the loot perks, you still have to spend Starbux on attaching these to your ship, this can be quite expensive as you hit higher tiers of upgrades or you come across a mission you cant complete because your current loadout is not suitable for it making the need to go back and grind earlier missions over and over just to create a new build.
Having to replay missions can become quite annoying and tedious as you don’t receive anything back for breaking down previous builds and it almost feels like a mechanic that was put into the title to keep you playing for longer periods of time, You get no warning of whats ahead of you until you have tried and failed the next mission several times by trying different loadouts until you find what actually works for you. The only thing I can say which does help this is that you can create multiple loadouts and pick and choose what works for each mission, but yet again, without going back and regrinding earlier missions several times, this is not possible as you would not have the currency to make multiple setups all at once.
Riftstar Raiders is a game that is not bad, but personally, I believe it has too many little annoyances to have a really fun time especially if you don’t have any other friends to play the game with. Advertised heavily as a four-player online co-operative title, there isn’t actually any matchmaking in game to find other players, and your only option is to directly invite someone into the game, so short of creating LFG posts or hoping that you know others with the title, then sadly playing alone is all you can do and the solo experience is just slow-paced and really starts to drag on after only a short while. Another grievance I found was when my phone rang on a play session, I paused the game after being about twenty minutes deep into a mission, only to look at the screen from another room to see my ship getting shot up and then destroyed behind the pause menu losing all my loot in the process, only for it to respawn me a few seconds later to the same outcome until my three lives were up and I was returned to the menus.