Airheart (PlayStation 4) Review

By Renan Fontes 17.11.2018

Review for Airheart on PlayStation 4

A good concept is by no means all a good videogame needs, but it can take a title rather far. Airheart is a flight-based, twin-stick shooter with roguelike elements that prioritises freedom of play above all else. Although there is a larger narrative tying everything together, gameplay is crowned king with an emphasis on customisation and exploration. On a purely conceptual level, Airheart sets itself up as a fairly freeform interpretation of the twin-stick shooter. Concept can only take a title so far, however, and it doesn't take long to see the cracks underneath its shiny coat of paint.

Despite a fairly narrative-driven tutorial, it doesn't take long for Airheart to abandon all pretence of focused storytelling in favour of complete player freedom. Upon contextualising Amelia's background - a young woman burning to carry on her father's legacy - she sets forth to catch a legendary sky whale. From there, all sense of direction is lost and the audience is free to proceed how it pleases.

For as minimal as the story is, there is quite an interesting world being built through the gameplay. Flying fish are used as currency, piracy is a rampant problem, and the world is seemingly connected through vertical planes that all lead to the supposed tip of the world. With little to not text to speak of, the world of the game manages to accomplish what many narrative-driven titles fail to do with the lengthiest of scripts.

Screenshot for Airheart on PlayStation 4

Of course, the world is only as interesting as can be conveyed visually. While the aesthetic is certainly colourfully pleasant, the top-down nature keeps the finer details obscured from view. Amelia's world does not expand past the surface level, which is actually not particularly damning considering how world building is clearly not a design priority.

Airheart has an interesting world worthy of a richer script, but it is also a title primarily concerned with its own gameplay. With virtually no narrative direction, all there is really left to do is sink time into the core mechanics. Gunplay, exploration, customisation, and crafting are the four most crucial elements of Amelia's journey.

Combat is about what to be expected from a twin-stick shooter. Amelia's aircraft is moved with the left analogue stick, while aiming is done with the right. Firing weapons can be done with R2, whereas L2 launches a harpoon that can latch onto objects to be pulled. On their own, the controls do not exactly lend themselves to in-depth gameplay, but they are plenty serviceable early on.

Screenshot for Airheart on PlayStation 4

Unfortunately, the combat's skill ceiling is rather low, especially in regards to the gameplay's rising difficulty. There simply isn't much Amelia can pull off mechanically for potentially skilled pilots to take advantage of. When it comes down to it, action is barebones simple to the point of tedium. Dogfights stand out as some of the worst moments, either due to how bland they are, or thanks to the sheer frustration of flying into a horde of pilots without the right equipment.

On the subject of equipment, Amelia can customise her ship to her heart's content. Every piece of her ship is fully editable. New parts can be purchased by flying over fish in any given stage or through the crafting system. Upon defeating pirates, they will often drop loot that Amelia can then craft together. Customisation is by far the single best part of the experience, as with so much variety to choose from, creating the perfect ship is genuinely rewarding. It's just a shame that the gameplay itself makes so little use of a fully decked out ship.

Screenshot for Airheart on PlayStation 4

Exploration mainly boils down to flying over fish on each plane of the world, while searching for platforms to propel Amelia higher into the air. The idea that each stage is vertically connected with a rather sound one, but the fact that stages don't play off of one another in any meaningful way is a massive let-down. Not helping matters is the mere fact that most levels are more or less identical in structure. There are no standout locations or areas to speak of, design-wise.

For those looking to indulge in a proper roguelike, Airheart features a Hard mode to complement its base Normal. Its major changes include the ability to permanently damage Amelia's plane parts and the ever popular permadeath. All things considered, it is a fine enough addition, but one better suited for a better game. Which is ultimately Airheart's biggest problem: it is filled with great ideas, but it lacks the inherent quality to pull them all off... it is a journey best flown in short bursts.

Screenshot for Airheart on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


For a title with such a strong concept, Airheart does shockingly little with its premise. Although customisation is genuinely quite well done with a crafting and shop system in place to ensure Amelia's ship will always differ between players, the actual game designs leaves quite a bit to be desired. The roguelike elements have little play in Normal mode, really only existing in terms of the loot system, whereas levels themselves are all designed rather similarly to one another resulting in not very engaging exploration. Although the difficulty does ramp up, the core gameplay loop leaves much to be desired in terms of skill or complexity. Airheart is by no means terrible, but it is better for short bursts of gameplay where its flaws can come out less prominently.




Blindflug Studios AG





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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