Airheart – Tales of broken Wings
Reviewed by Josh Brant
Developed By: Blindflug Studios
Published By: Blindflug Studios
Category: Action, Shooter
Release Date: January 31, 2019
Some of my best gaming experiences have been when I’ve taken to the sky with shoot ‘em ups or bullet-hell shooter, my favorite and most rewarding genre for the Nintendo Switch. Fortunately, for me there is no shortage of these types of games and developer Blindflug Studios have put their hat in the ring with Airheart – Tales of broken Wings. While this isn’t an alternate history storyline of a girl named Amelia – who you might think is based off of the famous American aviator Amelia Earhart – It successfully captures the wonder and excitement of flying through the skies, with some turbulence along the way.
Airheart, at its core, is a top-down twin-stick shooter featuring perma-death with your main goal being to fly as high as you possibly can through multiple sky tiers. There are some story elements present, mainly with pivotal moments and with the exploration of the world, but you’re mainly just given the goal of seeking a fortune at the edge of the world. Other than that, you’ll just have the motivation of continuing on in order to get better times and crafting to survive to make sure you have a powerful enough plane.
The art style is very colorful and inviting, with a gorgeous world to explore and plenty of details in the other ships and environments. This is where I wish there were more beautiful moments to the gameplay to keep me interested for a longer period of time. There isn’t really any time to truly appreciate the visuals, and it’s a shame considering the amount of work the developers made to craft a flying utopia.
Honestly, as far as the twin-stick shooter controls were concerned, it was just okay. I’ve played many games like this and I never felt truly comfortable with how your ship flew or how it fired various weapon systems. Hitting you targets seemed to be needlessly frustrating and managed to detract from the experience. It is by no means the worst controls or gameplay I’ve ever experienced, but just displayed a lack of polish compared to other titles in the genre.
How the gameplay loop works is that every time you launch from your base and start off at the lowest level of the sky. Once certain goals are met on one layer of the sky, certain boosters appear that will launch you to another tier and then another. Of course, this leads to harder enemies to defeat and makes it tougher to survive. Your main goal being to collect items and parts to further equip and make your plane stronger for progressing onward.
In order to make the necessary improvements you will need to collect sky fish, as this is the type of currency you’ll use to upgrade your ship. They’re scattered all over each area flying around, and you’re able to gather them up which makes for a fun collectable scenario. The problem is that this addictive quality wears off rather quickly and what you’re left with are the twin-stick shooting elements. Once you’ve collected enough fish oil from the fish you’ve collected, there is an in-depth crafting mechanic.
Crafting is done by collecting random parts on the levels before returning to the base and then trying to figure out what you are supposed to craft with these parts. It is a guessing game because you are just throwing in random resources hoping that it creates something and this discovery mechanic is not very intuitive at all. Once you do find something to craft you have to remember what resources made the specific item every single time and this can be a pain because there is no log kept of how to craft specific items. Crafting items allows you to potentially save some cash and just craft the plane parts or weapons, but it ends up being much easier to buy everything with your coins instead.
Airheart does feature perm-death, so it is important to be cautious with how you end up going about things. You may have to go more slow and calculated, and because of that it ends up lessening the fun factor due to being worried about losing everything that you’ve been working on collecting. Fans of this style of gameplay will probably enjoy it though, as it can be very enticing to take these risks and go after tougher enemies, but you’ll probably just end up being frustrated if you fail. Fortunately, once your plane gets low on hit points you are given plenty of opportunities to return to your base safely, but if you are a risk-taker and all of a sudden find yourself with nearly zero hit points it becomes a life or death situation.
Musically, there were some good tunes here with a western-acoustic score and also moments of atmospheric tranquility. Most of the time the music fit the situation, but there were some rare moments that made the whole experience seem off. While the soundtrack may not be memorable, it by no means detracts from the overall experience.
Overall, Airheart – Tales of broken Wings is a beautiful looking, but uninspired twin-stick shooter that unfortunately not many will probably persist with. This is a hard experience to quantify as there are moments of brilliance, but also too often moments of frustrating and lackluster execution. I had a great time with the overall experience, but the lack of perma-death execution and controls left me feeling upset. If you can manage to look past some of the flaws, you have a fun game that makes me excited to see what the developer has in store next.