Vertical scrolling shoot ‘em ups have been a staple of gaming way back in the early days of gaming, and with the ID Xbox program, they’re making an appearance once more. Easy to pick up and play, but hard to master. Step forward Handy Games with their latest Xbox One title, Aces of the Luftwaffe.
Featuring a cast of 4 eccentric characters, each with their own abilities that you can upgrade over time once you’ve collected enough skill coins, they also have their own unique set of de-buffs. Strange I know, but this adds a twist to the gameplay and makes it a little bit harder from time to time. From poison damage forcing you to move slow to recover, a rage induced attack at random, to narcolepsy and finally, and possibly the best one yet, a pilot that’s afraid of heights. Aces of the Luftwaffe sees our quartet of pilots on a mission to defeat the Kraut menace once and for all across 5 chapters and 25 missions.
From the word go, Aces of the Luftwaffe throws dozens of enemies you way from all directions in a bid to thwart you. Not quite a bullet hell in the early stages, but reach the last chapter and you’ll soon be treated to a welcoming party from bullet hell. It will push your dodging skills to their absolute limits here, but it’s by no means impossible. But whack the game on hard difficulty and it steps it up another level.
Despite the tones of the game and the era it’s set in, Handy Games have gone for a cartoon like aesthetic and a fictional story that eases up on the tensions and makes the game less serious with a cast of fictional enemies. I especially enjoyed the banter between each of the 4 protagonists and found their ailments an interesting addition to gameplay. There is a skill tree for each that allows you to upgrade them and therefore make them more of a threat to the Aces that need to be given a thorough beating. The Aces I refer to are the boss fights that you encounter in each of the games chapters and they provide a decent challenge with extended health bars that take a while to whittle down and defeat them. All unique and interesting, and also providing attack patterns that need to be learned in order to come out successful.
Completing standard missions is more than just getting to the end, there’s also side missions whereby you get awarded a skill coin upon completing these objectives. From rescuing survivors, dropping supplies, and defeating all enemies. Aces of the Luftwaffe provides plenty of diverse challenges for any fan of the genre and adding replay value in the process. If you’re wondering how the gameplay is; then it’s damn good. Simple controls allow anyone to just pick up the controller and start playing. Nothing difficult in that whatsoever.
The protagonists are also fully voiced as are their counterparts, and as mentioned earlier, there is some good banter between them all, of a little bit on the cheesy side of things, but this gives the game its charm.
Aces of the Luftwaffe is a solid game and provides an equally solid challenge for any fan of the genre. There’s very little to fault the game in all honesty, and I have no choice but to highly recommend it.
Developer: Handy Games
Publisher: Handy Games
Release Date: 24th July 2018
File Size: 1.63GB
Xbox One copy provided for review purpose.