Review – Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings

Rogue-like games have quickly become one of my favorite sub-genres because they can offer endless amounts of game time and a constant carrot on a stick progression that will keep you wanting more. This concept only works if the general gameplay loop and mechanics are fun, but unfortunately Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings has a very basic and rather shallow gameplay loop.

You play as Amelia, a young fisherwoman living in the floating city of Granaria. After losing her father, Amelia strives to reach the worlds edge and see the stratosphere. To reach it she will need to fight through multiple levels with increasingly tougher enemy pirates who want to destroy and scrap her ship.

Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings

Amelia’s workshop.

You may be a bit confused here since I mentioned that Granaria is a floating city and Amelia is a fisherwoman. Well, that’s because all the fish in Granaria can fly! Amelia will need to fly around collecting these fish to turn them into precious fish oil that I assume helps fuel the planes and floating cities. Seems simple? That’s because it is and it doesn’t start getting interesting until you make it to more difficult levels with more pirates. You’ll need to make multiple runs collecting fish and materials and returning it to your workshop to slowly enhance your airplane.

Amelia’s ship comes stock with a normal blaster and a harpoon. It isn’t all that well explained, but the harpoon comes in very handy dragging larger fish and other ships back to your workshop. As you progress in levels going higher and higher making your return can become tricky. When you’re close to death or have hooked a large fish or ship, you’ll need to free fall back down to your workshop all the while dodging the previous levels landmasses. You then need to work your way all the way back to where you were and it can become rather boring.

Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings

One the boss fights you’ll encounter.

Collecting fish oils grants you gold that you can then spend on new weapons and airplane upgrades to slowly get better. Or you can use the completely unexplained and convoluted crafting system to make your own weapons and upgrades. It seems to be easier to just buy your upgrades earlier in the game until you get to enemies that provide better materials. Either way you’ll need to grind some fishing to get gold because crafting also requires gold.

If you end up dying during a level, there are two possible outcomes. The best bet is to crash land on your workshops launch pad being able to recover your fish oil, but lose any bought upgrades and found parts. Outcome two is perma-death and this isn’t told to you at all before hand. This happens if you die and you miss your platform during a free fall. You’ll completely lose your current game as well as all progress and will need to start a new game. This caused quite a frustrating gameplay session and essentially made me never want to touch the game again.

Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings

The photo mode comes well equipped with features.

The graphics have an interesting art direction that is bold and almost cell shaded. Some of the levels can look nice with the colored clouds in the background while seeing all the other floating platforms and foliage below you as you fly around. However, when you start looking closely at the foliage the textures and even outlines seem to lack definition. Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings does offer a well featured photo mode, but this is when the flaws of the art direction are even more noticeable.

The various sound effects and gunfire are hit or miss. Some guns pack a nice punch and a sound effect that fits nicely, whereas weapons like the flamethrower lack any significant effect. There are a couple decent songs within the levels and more so during the boss fights, but they seem a bit repetitive considering you need to start from level one every time you return to your workshop.

Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings

Because I’m freeeee. Free faaaaallin’.

Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings is an interesting take on the rogue-like genre and a unique take on fly fishing. Unfortunately, the basic gameplay loop and the need to constantly return to base creates a tiresome grind. The lack of even a basic tutorial of the benefits of using your harpoon on various items, using your workshop to craft, or the fact that there is a perma-death mechanic creates frustration. If you can push through the grind and annoyances, there is a game here that could hold your attention for a long time if you enjoy the basic gameplay loop.

 

Graphics: 6.5

Interesting and bold art direction, but up close textures lack definition.

Gameplay: 7.0

Twin stick shooter that has some wonky flight controls and a gameplay loop that is too repetitive.

Sound: 7.5

Soundtrack is decent and the various gunfire effects are well done.

Fun Factor: 6.0

A surprise perma-death mechanic that caused a frustrating restart and a general gameplay loop lacks depth.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Reviewed on PS4.
Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings is available now on PC and PS4.
A copy of Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings was provided by the publisher.

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