Airheart (PC) Preview

By Michael Whittaker 07.10.2016

Review for Airheart on PC

Zurich-based developer, Blindflug, is readying its latest release: Airheart on PC. Preceded by the highly enjoyable Cloud Chasers, Airheart looks to follow on from where the aforementioned title left off. Blindflug is sticking with the twin-stick shooter genre and it's a decision vindicated, if first impressions are anything to go by. It's clear to see that the talented four-piece developer has taken the experience gained from Cloud Chasers, and has evolved its latest project into a game with greater depth, scale and polish.

Cubed3 was lucky enough to sit down with lead game designer Jeremy Spillmann, who showed the team the ropes and how to explore the diesel-punk action game and its visually enticing environments. Fans will be familiar with protagonist Amalia, who following on from her appearance in Cloud Chasers, finds herself in the sky city of Granaria, ten years later. Now lonely and alone, Amelia's financial struggles as a part-time mechanic have led her to dream of moving to the place her father had always wished for. The hope for this to become a reality presents itself in the form of a mythical sky-whale in the stratosphere, which, if hunted, will bring great fortune to its conqueror.

Screenshot for Airheart on PC

Right off the bat, Airheart makes a great impression, with an art style that is extremely easy on the eye and has as rich a colour pallet as would be hoped to find in a game that exudes an air of escapism so confidently. After choosing the first plane to take to the skies, the vibrancy and saturation of colour emanating from hazy blue and purple clouds, and richly contrasted cherry red and lime coloured tree leaves, really does instil a sense of joy and wonder. Whilst it's slightly simplistic in design, it's also extremely crisp in its execution.

What a beautiful backdrop to have accompanying the action on screen, of which, satisfyingly, there is plenty to comment on, and, tellingly, there is very little hand-holding, despite the fact that you are set upon by sky pirates the moment your altitude approaches theirs. This is because the controls are extremely intuitive and do an excellent job of accommodating the player. Navigation is controlled through the left stick, with the right as crosshair control and shoulder button to shoot. Put into practice, it quickly becomes apparent that the controls used for the action on-screen provide gameplay that is both smooth and overwhelmingly gratifying - so much so that in just a few minutes it's easy to corner around floating islands, whilst shooting and destroying hostile pirates giving chase.

Screenshot for Airheart on PC

These relentless antagonists are the main resistance you face towards the goal of traversing through the stages, which incidentally can be achieved by finding the launch pads, sending Amelia further into the skies, where further progression is exceedingly tougher with suitably menacing enemies awaiting.

It is precisely at this juncture that Airheart unveils itself to be a game of depth. Blindflug has implemented an excellent upgrade system, which is accessed back at Amelia's hanger and allows her to modify her plane. Not only are there customisable parts, such as the engine and wings, as well as some truly awesome new planes, but there is an abundance of weapons available to unlock, as well. The hook shot is a definite highlight as are both the laser and homing missiles. In order to gain parts to upgrade, Amelia must defeat the sky pirates and capture the sky-fish scattered through the levels.

Screenshot for Airheart on PC

Interestingly, the player needs to hold some caution when hunting sky-fish as doing so too frequently will result in the extinction of them instead. It's advisable to leave some until their numbers recover. Upgrading Amelia's plane is extremely rewarding and Blindflug has also done a very good job of keeping things tense. Should Amelia get struck down by some enemies, her plane is sent plunging down through the skies, at which point gamers must try and steer the plane and crash land it back on base. Should Amelia land back on base, then the state of her plane will remain, but if she misses and falls further, she will lose all customisations to the aircraft. This factor certainly injects a sizeable dose of tension, which only increases with time.

Another facet of the game, deserving of great praise, is the fantastic soundtrack. Doing a perfect job of lifting the overall experience of Airheart, the score breathes further life into the world and, furthermore, it effortlessly enriches the sense of scope and exhilaration running parallel to the gameplay.

Screenshot for Airheart on PC

Final Thoughts

Airheart is a hugely enjoyable and accessible game with an evolving sense of depth, which in itself is no easy task. It has tremendous heart, a touching story, and the ability to put a smile on your face. Blindflug deserves immense credit for the work it has put into the game and the results it has achieved. It is clearly a very talented developer and has created a game deserving of great things and one that points toward things yet to come. The game is almost finished and soon to be released on Steam Early Access and, on this evidence so far, it certainly comes highly recommended.

Developer

Blindflug

Publisher

Blindflug Studios AG

Genre

Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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