Review

Luftrausers Review (PC)

Luftrausers charm is in its simplicity – you use the arrow keys for directional movement, and then tap ‘X’ to fire your weapons. That’s really all there is to it – you start by pressing the up key to launch from your sub-carrier thing, and from there it’s an aerial dance of bobbing, weaving and firing in free fall as you try to destroy your enemies for maximum score. The more enemies you kill in a row increases your multiplier until you hit max, and then it’s just a matter of letting loose. The game will throw everything at you – from small ships and battleships on the sea, to small and big fighters and then blimps and jets in the air. Your ‘rauser has health, but it can regenerate as long as you’re not firing and you’re not getting hit by anything – a measure to prevent button mashing I imagine.

There are three components to your plane in Luftrausers – the weapon, the body and the engine. As you earn XP and increase through the games built-in level mission, you unlock new parts of these sections, for a total of 125 different combinations (so we’re told). Weapons can range from lasers, to homing missiles, to spread burst fire. Your body can tweak values like how much damage you take, how fast you go, whether or not ‘meleeing’ enemies (flying into them) gives you damage, and so forth. The engines also deal with speed and manoeuvrability. There’s one engine that propels you by firing bullets, which always gives me a chuckle. It’s useful, but it’s not great for dodging. We haven’t unlocked everything yet, but so far we still find the basic combination to be the best. We wonder if that’s deliberate.

The interface for switching out plane parts is simple, and you can launch straight into a game once you’re done

It’s not just about score attacking though – Luftrausers comes with over 100 ‘missions’ built into the game, which are really just tasks that you need to complete during a single session. These can range from things like killing 30 enemies, killing a battleship etc... to killing 10 fighters whilst at max combo wearing a bunny suit while high (ok, so that one’s not real, but you get the idea). Missions are only shown to you three at a time, and some missions require you to kill a certain enemy, like a blimp, in order to be unlocked, so it’s not like an achievement list that you can just look up. Still, you’d be surprised what you naturally unlock just by playing the game, so I wouldn’t say these missions add tremendous value, and you only really start paying attention to them once the initial shine has worn off Luftrausers skill-based chassis.

As hard as the Battleships are to take out, they’ve got nothing on the Blimps

There is a thought that this is something which, once upon a time, you could have played on your browser for free. It’s not that I want to detract from the fact that the creators deserve money for their work here, but sometimes one can’t help stop and realise how times have changed. Still, it’s hard to say you don’t get value for your money with this game. Luftrausers is a great a time-waster, a great test of your leet twitch skills, and a game that doesn’t assume too much and just lets you enjoy yourself. You’ll notice that Devolver have published this game – I sometimes think Hotline Miami could learn a thing or two here.

Top Game Moment: The music in this game is fantastic – it’s just the one track while you’re playing, but there’s a point where everything reaches a crescendo and you suddenly feel like you could take on the world.

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