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AIRHEART - Tales of broken Wings

is a dieselpunk action game about a young woman, who flies her airplane and catches skyfish among beautiful sky islands. Amelias biggest dream is to reach the... read more

Airheart - Tales of Broken Wings Review

Author: Matt Striplen
12-Dec-2016

Category: Review

Life has not been kind to Amelia. After leaving the harsh world of Earth's surface, she now resides on the beautiful floating city of Granaria to pursue Skyfishing. However, life in the heavens is anything but easy, with bands of pirates at every turn. Do you have what it takes to guide Amelia though these perils?

Airheart - Tales of Broken Wings Review

introduction

From Swiss development team Blindflug comes an exciting new rogue-like game Airheart - Tales of Broken Wings. It's a game of piloting skills, resource management, and strategic upgrades. Airheart is still in the early access phase of its development, but that shouldn't stop you from getting in on the action ahead of time.

Airheart is available on Steam for $14.99.

Welcome to the skies

Earth lies far below you, serving only as a reminder of the life Amelia left behind. Your life now revolves around Skyfish, the mysterious creatures inhabiting the heavens. Skyfish are rich in oils which are sold for a hefty profit. Fishing itself isn't a particularly dangerous endeavor, but the roving bands of bloodthirsty pirates are enough to make anyone think twice about venturing into the air. Dealing with this airborne menace requires adequate firepower and defences, so save up your cash to upgrade your ship.

Airheart Hangar

granaria

Granaria serves as your home base; a place to store your equipment, purchase new items, or craft your own parts.

Arguably the most important part of Granaria is the workbench, which stores your collected parts. Once a part is complete, it can be equipped to your ship, sold for cash, or broken down for a blueprint. Should you choose to do the latter, the part will be destroyed, but the blueprint enables you to purchase it for a fraction of the retail price. Players will able be able to start with any blueprinted part, should their plane be destroyed.

Despite their obvious advantages, blueprinting is risky business, as the success rate is a mere 25%. Should the process fail, you'll still lose the part but with a handful of scraps left over. This can be very frustrating as the abysmally low success rate can never be improved and the best parts are expensive and/or rare. This means, it is quite possible to lose more than four complete parts before getting a blueprint.

Granaria's store carries a wide variety of parts and weapons, including set plane configurations. Each plane is broken into three parts: the chassis, engine, and wings. The plane configurations provide a set of parts that work well together and have a matching aesthetic, but mixing and matching parts to create your own custom flying machines is easily one of the best parts of Airheart. However, good parts are prohibitively expensive, and purchasing anything big requires careful saving, and even more careful flying. A single chassis can take several hours of gameplay to save for.

After crafting or purchasing your desired parts and weapons, it's time to assemble your dream machine in the Hangar. Assembly is as simple as flipping through your various parts and hitting the take-off button. All pertinent information is displayed simultaneously, making shipbuilding simple.

Airheart dogfight

gameplay

Now that we're finally airborne, it's time to make some cash. Catching Skyfish requires the player to make physical contact with the creatures, then it will automatically be scooped up. Plunging your plane into a swirling school of fish often results with a lucrative outcome. Although catching every fish in sight might sound appealing, be mindful that only a small percentage of the population will regenerate by your next visit. Skyfish are also susceptible to weaponry, so don't be surprised if your former battlegrounds yield little results.

After catching a fair number of fish, players will notice a large device emblazoned with the word "Up." This serves as an elevator into different sky layers, each with unique challenges. Since Airheart falls into the rogue-like genre, the exact layout of the sky layers changes on each visit, but the theme remains constant. Be ready for anything when changing sky layers, as the elevator may place you into a swarm of pirates!


Catching fish is the safest way to earn money, but hunting pirates is much more exciting. Pirates often drop oil barrels or scrap parts, both of which are very valuable. Certain pirates, especially at higher sky layers, drop scraps for parts not available in the store. Scraps are arguably much more valuable than the oil, since crafting an item out of them is significantly cheaper than purchasing the same item outright.

Once you're ready to return to the safety of Granaria, taking a nosedive is the only way back. The ride home isn't quite as simple as just taking an elevator. Since the plane plummets earthbound without only minimal guidance, it's up to the player to dodge other floating landmasses in your path. Should you deplete your health by striking objects or from enemy fire...

Destruction and death

Your plane immediately nosedives once your health reaches zero. Plus, your navigation system is destroyed too, so it's up to the player to manually fly the ship back to Granaria. Even if you make it back, all cargo will be lost, as well as your entire plane and its weapon. Losing cargo is bad enough, but the destruction of your hard earned craft is a crushing blow which can take hours of gameplay to recover from.

Matters become even worse should you either fail to reach Granaria or your plane is destroyed from collisions. You will receive a true Game Over screen. Amelia dies. You lose your plane, your spare parts, your blueprints... everything. The game resets from square one. Don't let it happen.

Airheart elevator sky layer

Graphics and sound

One aspect sets Airheart's graphical presentation apart from the masses of other games: the colors. The depth of the blue sky paired with a vibrant crimson plane firing shining bullets is simply a beautiful sight. The cartoonish art style bares some similarity to that seen in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which is used to great effect. Everything looks crisp and clear.

Although this game doesn't have a tremendous amount of tracks available, the music quality remains high. The twanging guitar theme on Granaria gives off a wistful, old west vibe, while the upper sky layers sound almost futuristic. That said, even good music can get tired from over playing. I wish there was just a bit more variety to keep the game feeling fresh.

Early access

Since Airheart is still in the Early Access phase of development, there are still several bugs, trivial and otherwise. I won't comment too much on them since the developers are constantly patching them out. Plus, lots of new content and other gameplay tweaks are added every few weeks. The patches are definitely welcome and necessary additions to the game, but they come with a price. If you've put in a ton of hours, players will be disappointed to know that many patches wipe the save data, forcing players to restart from the very beginning.

controls

Airheart's controls take a little getting used to. Instead of having relative directional control, which means pressing left while travelling east will change course to north, this game's default setting is absolute control. This means that pressing a direction will result in the player pursuing that direction, regardless of the previous flight path. That said, a new control scheme implementing absolute control was just patched in due to popular demand.

Other than the unusual directional inputs, the rest of the game handles well, though not perfectly. I never felt like I had 100% precision accuracy when flying my plane, regardless of how long I practiced. The overall feel changes dramatically when different parts are equipped, but the slightly slippery sensation never completely disappears.

conclusion

Airheart - Tales of Broken Wings is an awesome example of the rogue-like genre which still has plenty of untapped potential. The basic core gameplay of collecting money and scraps to upgrade your plane is solid and addicting. The great visuals never fail to make a splash onscreen. That said, the patches, despite the good which they ultimately bring, are frustrating due to the save data wipes. I highly recommend Airheart, but have patience and wait for the finished game.

PROSCONS
+ Addicting gameplay- Patches delete save data
+ Beautiful graphics- Bugs
+ Patches greatly improve gameplay- Prices and blueprints need adjustment
+ Pirate battles are compelling
+ Plenty of opportunities to customize your plane



SCORE: 8.8/10

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