Izanami has become bored with sitting around the house and being shut in. She does, however, have a group of friends in Eione, Florine, and Lauressa. Together they decide to show Izanami a magical stone from their homeland. The stone has the power to turn her thoughts into a reality. This enables Izanami to bring excitement to her own Danmaku (bullet hell). Izanami is determined to take over the moon and to make that her reality.
The game can be played through both controller and keyboard options. The keyboard defaults are a little on the abstract side (arrow keys to move and a combination on the left-hand side of the keyboard used to fire, focus, slow and bomb).
Unfortunately, the default controller (Xbox One controller) options are simply annoying. The defaults are set so that you use your left thumbstick to guide your plane. However, you also must use the down button on the left D-pad to fire. Thankfully, you can change this from within the game’s settings menu.
For those who are less skilled at bullet hell games, there is an option to have unlimited continues turned on from within the options menu. The player can also change the number of bombs that they begin with (0 to 9, the default is 3).
The gameplay is very standard and what players will have come to expect from the genre. The greatest strength of the gameplay is found in the boss battles. These fights are varied and feels very rewarding when you conquer them. Furthermore, the game controls very well – after the default settings are changed – and I feel that this is an accomplishment in itself.
For those who are beginners of the genre, I would recommend that you play the practice mode, to begin with. This will enable you to familiarize yourself with the gameplay. I’ve always found bullet hell to be on the higher level of difficulties when it comes to genres so having this experience will only serve to make the game more satisfying.
A point of criticism that I do have for the game – one that is not too uncommon in the genre – is that the game only comes with five levels. This means that you can complete the game within an hour and much less dependent upon how well skilled you are. Thankfully, however, there is a sixth unlockable bonus level (and the level editor).
The first thing that the player is presented with is that the game is not a full-screen game. In fact, it took up about a quarter of my game screen at 450p windowed. You can change this from within the options window. You can change this to 540p (windowed), 720p (windowed and full screen) and 1080p (windowed and full screen).
The game is introduced to the player through an opening cut scene which is skippable by pressing the enter key. Be warned that if you do press the key that it will automatically skip without giving you the opportunity to confirm your decision. I found this to be a slight disappointment as I would have enjoyed sitting through the intro and I did press the key accidentally.
A strength of the presentation is found in the sixteen-strong soundtrack. There is enough variety here that my ears weren’t bleeding. I like that there is an explanation of each piece of music. This can be found within the ‘music room’ – simply click music from within the main menu.
Graphically, there are more polished and better looking bullet hell games available. It isn’t necessarily a strong point of the game. However, I didn’t find it to be a significant weakness either. This is because I found that the color palette that was utilized kept the eye strain commonly found within the genre to a minimum.
The story is presented well before the game begins, before and between each level. It’s a bit on the vanilla side for my liking but that it is present, followable and easy to understand makes for a nice addition to the game.
Izanami’s Dream Battle includes a level editor. At first glance, the editor looks and feels more complicated than it truly is. However, if you have ever wanted to create your own bullet hell games and levels then it is worth persisting with. Who knows, you may discover the game designer in you. The level editor is available from the game’s main menu.
The game also includes fourteen Steam achievements. As some of the achievements are based on completing the game on different difficulty settings and once as each of the characters you must play through the game at least four times to achieve a perfect game.
The default settings were aggravating and that effects my overall score for the game. However, they can be fixed quite easily. I would argue that this is simply a case of the game not being play tested using the Xbox controller. Although I didn’t use the keyboard to play the game I believe that gamers are now accustomed to using WASD keys to maneuver. I would argue that the arrow keys for shooting, focus, slow down and bombs would be better default settings.
Putting my displeasure of these settings to the side I believe that Izanami’s Dream Battle is a solid although an unspectacular attempt at the creation of a bullet hell game. It’s not a game that will stick with me but if you’re a fan of the genre then you’d do worse than adding this one to your collection. This is who I would recommend the game to. The game will satisfy a niche market but I would argue that it won’t turn anyone who isn’t already a fan of the genre into one.
To make the level editor a more compelling reason to purchase the game I would incorporate Steam Workshop capabilities on the game. It would be fascinating to see what the community can come up with. It could also, naturally, dramatically increase the amount of content featured within the game and subsequently, increase the cost-value proposition into the developer’s favor. This would be much better than the idea of adding people’s levels to the game manually as then it would be up to your community to vote for the quality of the level and cut down on your own work.
I would also like to see the game updated with a better default control scheme.
About Studio JAW
Studio JAW is a multi-purpose company started by DJ JAW (Jo-Anna Wall). It is the blanket business name for her works in software, music, graphic design, and events. Izanami’s Dream Battle marks her first game on Steam.
Reviewer’s genre experience: Filthy casual. I do enjoy them but there are far more skilled players of the genre than what I am.