Danmaku Unlimited 3
Available Now on Steam
Developed by Doragon Entertainment
The next part of what is probably the more beloved indie shmup series to grace Steam is here, and it's fiercer than ever. Danmaku Unlimited 3 retains the core premise of being the fastest and flashiest shoot'emup offering around while offering an accessible and easy to manage experience for newcomers. It once again offers the most dazzling array of bullet patterns with the most intuitive and accessible of controls for easy and gratifying swoops between the bursts of colorful shrapnel, while upping the ante with an engaging new mechanic that rewards your most daring and tricky maneuvers. It's been a long wait since 2, but the monumental leap in quality has made it more than worth the wait.
Danmaku Unlimited's visuals have evolved from its very indie predecessors to a point of pure polish and bright, arcade bliss. The designs of ships are much clearer and the animations of their movement much smoother, the backgrounds are layers deep and have an attractive sci-fi complexity that just wasn't present in 2, and all around the whole package just feels much more professional. The screen is constantly alive with flashes of light and bursts of color, and breaking into a well-timed Trance mode has the overwhelming assault on the senses that gives the transformation an impactful satisfaction.
Any fan will be excited to hear Blankfield makes a return for more powerful and heavy themes to your score-chasing destruction. The same fast, pulse-driving, almost math rock-y heavy guitar riffage is here with an extra layer of blissful headbanging melody. Just like the game itself, Blankfield seems to have only grown in talent and musical ambition with a much cleaner and more experienced sound than before. It drives the frenetic pace of the game more than well, but I do miss the lower-quality grit of the older and more appropriately indie sound. Fans of the genre, however, will not be the least bit disappointed.
The newly introduced Graze and Spirit systems in place are fun and easy to grasp, while being incredibly deep in the long-run for seasoned players who play dangerously and want a higher skill ceiling. Your inner daredevil is rewarded as every bullet that comes close to contact with your core sparks against your ship and adds to the powerful Trance meter, bringing you closer to a satisfying power trip. This gives talented pilots even more reason to play recklessly, weaving in and out of the spinning streams of bright bullets to graze closely and collect energy for a satisfying burst of power.
Danmaku Unlimited still excels at what it does best; making you feel like an utter and complete arcade bad-ass even when you might not necessarily be one. The satisfying screen clear of bullets when neutralizing enemies, the flash of your Trance meter filling and the intense overdrive of power thereafter, and the fluid, pinpoint control of your ship as you dance between the mesmerizing patterns of bullets make Danmaku Unlimited 3 the most refreshing shmup offering around and a perfect entry point for newcomers and curious shooters alike. For the longest time Danmaku Unlimited was the one of the best shoot'emup series you could find on Steam, and 3 re-validates that entirely for a new generation.