Vlambeer has a wonderful habit of taking games they already developed, revisit them and make them much, much better. We first saw this when Vlambeer took Radical Fishing, tweaked it, and make it into the masterpiece that was Ridiculous Fishing. This time around, Vlambeer took the simple game of Luftrauser and added a ton of features, new gameplay elements and made the game we have today; Luftrausers. While Luftrausers is exceedingly simple, it makes that simple mechanic extremely fun to play while giving you just enough to keep you playing the game. You’ll find yourself pushing the limit and trying to get that last kill to get enough for that upgrade you’ve been looking for. It is extremely addicting so if you are susceptible to that, be careful, this game is out to get you.
Luftrausers is a monochromatic retro-style, aerial shooter. You control a single aircraft and you’re tasked with fighting off wave after wave of enemy ships and aircraft. You will constantly be chased by a squadron or two of fighters and a naval contingent or two. You have an unlimited amount of ammo and fuel at your disposal and you’ll fight until you are shot down. Your ship will automatically repair itself as long as you don’t shoot your weapons. However, that is easier said than done. Once you are shot down, your experience is tallied and carried with you to the next game you play. You can then unlock new weapons, hulls and engines for your plane or go back into the action with what you have. The formula is quite simple, but the rogue-like experience system gives you plenty of incentive to keep dog-fighting until you get that sweet laser which will make your life so much easier from then on.
While the gameplay itself is rather simplistic, the fun in the game is provided by the sheer number of different combinations you can experiment with. The game advertises about 125 different combinations. However, each combination plays and feels quite different from even a slightly modified load out. Some planes have heavy armor and move slowly, while others are slight and are highly maneuverable and some even have ballistic qualities. Mixing and matching upgrades and weapons is great fun and seeing how each upgrade effects another keeps you coming back and trying out a new load out. The best part is new upgrades are unlocked frequently so you’ll have plenty to play with from the beginning of the game.
The game play is great, but another part of the game that takes center-stage is the sound track. The game feature a chip tune style track but it compliments the visuals and the gameplay.If you’ve ever played a Vlambeer game before, it is typically Vlambeer. If you haven’t, the soundtrack is catchy and perfectly sets the tone for the game, yet without the gameplay the soundtrack seems to lose its context and power. Either way, we found ourselves playing “just one more round” just to hear how the soundtrack evolves. It is all very well done and worth the price of admission alone.
As is generally the case with Vlambeer, Luftrausers attention to detail makes everything in this game standout in all the right ways. From the mission structure of getting x number of kills to get a bonus, to the excellent soundtrack, to the monochrome, yet engaging art style to even the repair mechanic, the game just clicks in such a way that you can’t put it down. Everything works in harmony and makes this one of the best indie games of 2014. You don’t often see dog-fighting games in the market anymore, but luckily, we are treated to a game that managed to do everything right and provide the marketplace with a game that it has been sorely lacking. It is great to see some variety come into the marketplace and Vlambeer seemed like the best company to man the charge.
Overall, Luftrausers should be on your radar for your next gaming purchase. It took the exceedingly simple Luftrauser, added new gameplay mechanics and a deep upgrade system, and gave us something that could rival any other game on the market. If you are looking for something different, but something that is going to engage you from the very beginning, this is the game for you. We loved our time with Luftrausers and we know that you will too.
This review is based on a review copy of the PC version of Luftrausers developed by Vlambeer published by Devolver Digital
- Addictive Gameplay
- Interesting Art Style
- A Little Repetitive