AirHeart is a fresh new look into the twin-stick rogue like genre that acts more as a sort of ‘my first roguelike’ rather than a hardcore, ‘test you till you break’ roguelike – The game follows the now-teenage protagonist of Blindflug’s previous game, Cloud Chasers, although you do not need to play it to understand the plot (even though you totally should play it!).
After the events of Cloud Chasers, “the girl” sets up shop on the poor district of a cloud city, wanting to escape higher and higher from the world that condemned her, she aims to enter the stratosphere in search of the legendary Sky Whale, a massive behemoth, which if felled, is said to bring eternal riches and glory to it’s conquerer…
When I was introduced to AirHeart, I’m not going to lie, the low-texture quality of the ships and Borderlands / Beyond Good and Evil-esque graphics looked a little plain to me; however, the style did soon grow on me, especially once I got to play around with the large variety of ship parts on offer.
Combat was another aspect of the game that had to grow on me for a little while before I started to appreciate the format that it was presented to me in; AirHeart controls with primarily the back two bumper buttons (On an Xbox One controller), and the left / right analogue sticks, with you aiming with a slightly in-accurate crosshair – At first, I found the combat to be a little tricky to learn, however once unlocking new weapons, including machine guns, bumpers, lasers and a missile launcher. I am pleased to say that these issues seemed to be exclusive to the initial starting weapon; quite apt seeing as your first ship is literally an ‘out-of-the-Ikea-box’ sort of plane that is literally created out of scrap and spare parts.
One aspect of the game that I really did enjoy is that the whole game is intended to play out much like a “One-Shot film”, where everything in the world is persistent and always moving – Everything you do, from creating your ship, to buying or selling parts, to combat, to moving up levels, to crashing back down to your hanger is completely unbarred by any loading screens, awkward transitions or clever illusions – The sense that you’re always present in this world makes it feel more like an immersive universe rather than just a collection of levels seen in such games as The Binding of Isaac or Enter the Gungeon.
Another little thing that I noticed in my hour of playing AirHeart is the scale of persistence in the world – Enemies you defeat do not respawn, but instead are eternally dead; the same goes for your main resource of oil, the Skyfish; if you overhunt them, they will go extinct, removing any convenient way to obtain a source of Oil – If you leave them to their own devices, however, they will repopulate. This can easily be seen when going through levels, where you can see the current population, and their decline and growth.
For a game that was created in under a year, with only a four-person team, I really do have to commend the efforts and work that Blindflug Studios has put into this game; at the test stage, it already felt near-finished, and I would’ve happily paid £5 to take home a demo to see if I could complete the game! I really did enjoy my time spent with AirHeart, and I’m deeply interested in seeing where, and how far, this little Indie gem will go.
AirHeart will come pre-bundled with 3 ships on Early Access Launch, with all 4 individual parts of each ship interchangeable, allowing players to create up to 12 variants of ship, with a variety of special weapons, stats and abilities.
Blindflug Studios have also confirmed they plan to add around 2-3 more ships into the game by the end of the year, possibly including new levels, weapons, mechanics and bosses every 3 weeks in community-driven patches – They also aim to release the game on Steam Early Access by the end of October 2016, planning to fully release on OSX App Store, Windows Store, PS4 & Xbox One by the end of Summer Q2 2017.
I would greatly recommend that you look into AirHeart, and Blindflug’s previous game Cloud Chasers, as in my opinion (And as a fan of roguelikes), this looks like the perfect introduction to those who are nervous about getting into roguelikes!
You can check out Blindflug’s website here: http://www.blindflugstudios.com/
And AirHeart’s Early Access page here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=714137497