Do you like chasing high scores? You better like chasing high scores, because that’s what Luftrausers is all about.
The set up is simple. You are a plane. There are other planes trying to shoot you out of the sky, battleships trying to take you out from the sea and, occasionally, a fortress-like blimp that descends from the clouds above.
You have to survive as long as possible (to an absolutely brilliant soundtrack), while trying to take out as many enemies as you can to boost your score.
Luftrausers Review – Simple, Yet Elegant
There’s an elegant simplicity to the way that that you go about this task in Luftrausers.
Health regenerates, but only when you’re not shooting. This means that Luftrausers is all about balancing attack and retreat, aggression and caution.
Movement feels distinct from similar shooters – you can boost swiftly through the air at the cost of a poor turning circle, but ceasing your boost will stall your plane, allowing you to turn more freely as you start falling toward the sea.
Being as this is a high-score game, Luftrausers requires that you master these mechanics in service of maintaining your combo, in order to maximise the points you gain from taking out enemies.
If you’re someone that loves high-score games, who enjoys the process of mastering a simple system, gradually refining your technique with every attempt to eek out ever-higher points tallies, the appeal of Luftrausers is immediately apparent.
Those not of that school may find Luftrausers lacks the direction to keep the game engaging over a long period, though Luftrausers does at least make some concessions in that regard.
Luftrausers Review – Customising Weapons, Bodies & Engines
It is possible to customise your plane with a range of gradually unlocked weapons, bodies and engines that change the way you play the game in interesting ways.
A body that takes no damage from melee attacks, for example, turns you into a kamikaze machine. There’s also the slightly silly Gungine – an engine that propels you at a slow speed, using bullets – and the spectacularly destructive Cannon, amongst others.
There’s enjoyment to be had from splicing these options together in different configurations in order to see how they change the way that you approach Luftrausers and which combinations best suit your playstyle.
Each of these customisation options has a series of challenges attached, a welcome inclusion which provides players with something to aim for beyond reaching high scores.
These challenges might ask you to destroy a certain number of enemy types in a game, kill so many opponents without taking damage or reach a certain number of points.
Challenges prove to be a good way of encouraging players to experiment with the intricacies of different weapons, bodies and engines, as well as helping to redress the relatively rudderless nature of Luftrausers.
However, these concessions are a temporary salve that ultimately do little to hold the attention of those who aren’t interested in Luftrausers’ high-score core.
For that reason, it’s likely that many will find Luftrausers to be of fleeting interest, a temporary distraction that’s fun for a while, but may become tedious relatively quickly.
Luftrausers is not aimed at those people, though.
Luftrausers is a game for score chasers and we’ve no doubt that Luftrausers well-balanced mechanics will yield a level of depth inverse to its conceptual simplicity, rewarding those who are prepared to put the time and effort in to get the best out of the game.
Version Tested: PC