Airheart: Tales of Broken Promises

BY: DEVONTE GRIFFITHS

Game: Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS
Rating: E for Everyone 10+
Price: $14.99

Airdropped from the developers at Blindflug Studios in Zurich, Switzerland, Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings is an ambitious rogue-like game that continuously struggles to earn its wings. The game does very little to entice you in the early stages. It starts with a fairly generic story of a spunky, teenage pilot who attempts to fulfill her dead father’s dream of catching the mythical Skywhale. To do this, she must upgrade her plane by capturing floating fish from the sky and fighting off bandits along the way.

The game begins with a simple tutorial to explain the basics of flight and combat. It operates like a typical twin-stick shooter with the left joystick controlling movement and the right joystick aiming your weapon. This game also adds a grappling hook to collect trickier types of fish and can even hook other airplanes.
The presentation of the game is sought on the principle of simplicity. The brief amounts of exposi-tion are shown with static images. The colors, while vibrant, are often simple and are complemented with a bright cell-shaded art style. The planes are easy to recognize from a distance and even with all the wacky upgrades you make to your plane, it is easily recognizable and its functions are clear.

Despite its overall simplicity, the game lacks a sense of conveyance about its mechanics. The crafting system is given no explanation and for the most part is relegated to mixing random items together until something favorable is created. The value of fish is completely arbitrary with rarer fish on the higher levels fetching the same amount of parts as those on the lower levels.

The basic gameplay loop consists of the player collecting fish on ascending levels and returning to base when health drops too low. If your health drops to zero, your plane will be sent plummeting, resulting in losing a random amount of parts. You could only lose the fish collected on your trip or you might lose EVERY SINGLE upgrade you currently have on the ship.

Though the mechanics are serviceable, the main issues arise due to its roguelike structure. Unlike most roguelikes, there are no procedurally created dungeons. The randomness comes from the fish that spawn and the enemy placement. The different areas that you explore never change causing them to loss their luster after being explored for hours. The severe punishment for death discourages players from taking risks and instead rewards repetitive grinding in order to buy better parts for your plane in order to survive just a bit longer.

Though I wouldn’t call this game difficult, I’d say it isn’t very kind to people who have never tried a rogue-like before. The continuous journeys back to base after a failed run will become a chore as the passion towards the main goal is lost amidst the frustration that endures. With all these technical gripes, I find this very hard to recommend since there are many similar adventures to it, and it does very little to stand out from the rest of the crowd. If you want a fun aerial combat game, I’d recommend the Ace Combat series. If you want an intriguing roguelike for new-comers, I’d recommend Moonlighter or Rogue Legacy.