Driftland: The Magic Revival is a hands-off real-time strategy developed by Star Drifters and released in 2019. The war between mages has been ravaging the planet for centuries, until their arrogance brought the world to ruin and regressed the people of Driftland into primitive tribes.
Time passed, and new mages were born along with a spark of hope, capable of connecting the shattered floating islands into mighty empires. However, that, in turn, also brought the previous conflicts back to the races of Driftland.
Now it is up to players to develop their magical might, bring together split landmasses, collect resources, train powerful armies of free-willed heroes and bring their chosen race to glory.
Is your mana extractor ready? Then let’s go!
Driftland: The Magic Revival features a variety of game modes, including free game, custom maps, multiplayer and the single-player campaign that features five maps per faction, of which there are four: Humans, Dark Elves, Dwarves and Wild Elves. Having access to the Wild Elf campaign requires beating the other three.
The game also features a tutorial to bring new apprentice mages up to speed on the art of controlling and building up an empire on floating islands of Driftland. Usually, your journey starts like this:
You begin with having only a Castle, a couple of Cottages and your race’s food production building on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Driftland. From that point on, you need to connect and scout the nearby islands, make sure to get rid of enemies or aggressive wildlife, send your Explorers to check which resources can be gathered from your new lands and set up a powerful production chain.
There are nine resources to keep a track of: food, gold, mana, wood, stone, coal, metal, diamonds and rubies. Producing a particular resource requires building a corresponding structure, for example Lumberjack’s Cabin, and assigning workers to it, with the number of workers regulating the speed at which the resource is produced. Idle workers get assigned to the Castle to passively produce extra gold, at a rate slower than that of the Gold Mine.
You can upgrade buildings for various benefits: higher-level Castle unlocks new buildings, upgraded Towers have increased range and damage, better Cottages fit more people in, production buildings open new worker slots, etc. It is up to you to decide whether it is worth it to, for example, upgrade a Gold Mine considering the amount of resource a particular island houses.
While all of them have their use, the ones you will be dealing with most frequently are food, gold, wood and stone. Increasing your population in turn increases your food consumption, and getting a nicely rounded army means sky-rocketing the expenditure of both food and gold – heroes love to eat and get paid.
Entering a conflict with an opponent gets the consumption going even more, especially if you have to manually restore the damaged buildings. So even with the game’s general hands-off approach to economy and battles, there will be a lot of things to keep and eye on and juggle around.
Dropping the production of less required resources to shuffle all of the extra workers to produce that sweet, sweet gold and food for your ravenous heroes is a reality for many maps of the main campaign.
The campaigns’ maps feature a variety of tasks to go through, from gathering resources to wiping out your enemies to moving your own castle around the map and trying to find lost magical artifacts.
The tone, aesthetics and even the music change to fit your chosen race. Additionally, there are a number of spells that are different based on who you are playing. While a Human mage would cast fireball, a Dark Elf summons banshees to feast on an enemy.
You can only interact with the islands that are within your magic range and are not in the fog of war. There are various ways to ensure your units get to them and/or provide you with an opportunity to flex your magic might.
First, you can capture the nests of local flying wildlife such as giant ravens, eagles or even dragons or produce your own gliders if you play as Dwarves. That will give your Knights, Assassins, Warlocks, Marksmen, etc. a way to quickly traverse the connected islands of your Empire and explore the further reaches of the map.
Secondly, you can use a spell called Magic Eye to scout out areas within your magical reach and pull the islands closer to your main landmass to connect them via bridges. It is certainly a reliable way, but after a certain number of islands even your flying units will require quite a bit of time to reach the further corners of your holdings.
The third and the most interesting way is to use a spell called The Gates of Thyr. It opens a magic pathway between two points. The starting and the ending points both have to be within your magic reach and out of the fog of war. It works well with the previously mentioned magic eye.
Interacting with characters and zones outside of your magic reach is the main dilemma. Sending your flying forces prevents you from supporting them with magic and even increasing your range with the appropriate Tech Tree improvement and building Magic Towers to help your army out only does so much.
Altogether, Driftland: The Magic Revival is a relaxing real-time strategy that allows you to speed up or pause your game. The indirect control over units made me fondly remember Majesty and its whimsical adventures.
At a certain point, the game’s repetitiveness might get to you – there are only so many differences between races! – but altogether it was a time well-spent in the role of a Magic Overlord. Stealing islands from opponents and dragging them away to join my magic empire was a real treat.
Those who prefer the more classic hands-on direct control of the units but would like to dive into the colorful world of Driftland can check out Nomands of Driftland – an RTS game initially created as an add-on to Driftland: The Magic Reviva that was released as a standalone expansion and made available for free. Nomads do not have a ruler and do not carry out orders like other races in the base game.
- Interesting indirect / hands-off approach
- Gorgeous colorful aesthetic
- Lengthy campaign sprawling four races
- Island control mechanics
- Magic system
- A way to speed up or pause the game
- Lack of voiceover
- Gameplay loop stays completely the same across races
- Repetitive music
- Tiny text
Similar to: Majesty