Review – Astro Flame: Starfighter

A few years ago, small indie studio Satur Entertainment released a little shoot ’em up called I, AI. It didn’t garner a lot of attention, especially considering the nonsensical amount of bullet hell shooters being released at an obnoxious pace in the indie scene, but it was decent enough. What made me like it more than anticipated was the inclusion of a permanent upgrade system, in which orbs collected in normal levels could be traded for more armor, better weapons, and so on. It encouraged replayability, and made you feel stupidly powerful after a while. Astro Flame: Starfighter, the studio’s newest outing, is pretty much more of the same, but for a newer generation of consoles. It is also just a tad bit better than its predecessor, but not by much.

Astro Flame: Starfighter Green Orbs

Green orbs, also known as Space Cash.

This is the classic case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Astro Flame: Starfighter plays exactly like I, AI, with just a few new power-ups, a completely different art style, and less bugs. There’s not a lot to complain about bugs or any technical issues, with the exception of the very occasional framerate drop. The controls are simple, the permanent upgrade system still works as intended, and sound glitches, which were present in I, AI, are nowhere to be seen in this game. Granted, the soundtrack is very underwhelming in comparison to the one featured in its predecessor, but we do get a song for each level and sound effects don’t disappear out of thin air. For as ridiculous as this may sound, this was a serious gripe I had with I, AI back in 2020.

Despite the weak soundtrack, the sound effects are punchy as hell. Shoot down an enemy ship, and you’ll be graced with a loud explosion effect, which almost acts as some twisted kind of ASMR for bullet hell enthusiasts. The visuals are also a bit better than before, but Astro Flame: Starfighter is still a visually underwhelming game. The game goes bonkers with the repetitive usage of assets in each new level, and there is the (very) occasional framerate issue. Nothing that compromised the gameplay that much, thankfully enough.

Astro Flame: Starfighter Upgrades

Too frail? Just upgrade your armor. Getting constant Game Over messages? Raise some cash and invest in Resurrection.

The star of the show is still the upgrade system. Boot Astro Flame: Starfighter up for the first time, and you’ll still be annoyed at how underpowered and frail your ship is. Keep racking up those small orbs and add more armor, beefier shots, and a nonsensical array of additional weapons, to the point of eventually turning the game into a joke. Given how each level is short, and loading times are nearly nonexistent, replayability is still pretty high. I didn’t mind going back to previous levels just to grab some extra orbs before venturing back to the main critical path. There’s nothing in this game that cannot be solved with just some fun grinding.

Astro Flame: Starfighter gameplay

You know the drill: hold down R2, and just try to avoid every single shot in sight. Or just upgrade your weapons until you’re able to destroy enemy ships before they even show up onscreen.

There’s little else that needs to be said, or can be said, given how simplistic Astro Flame: Starfighter is. Just like its predecessor, it’s a simple, somewhat generic, but surprisingly fun bullet hell shooter. Even if it’s not particularly interesting to look at, much less innovative (if anything, it only slightly manages to stand out from I, AI), it got the job done with its level of polish, great controls, and addictive upgrade system.


Graphics: 5.5

Not a particularly good-looking game, with repetitive usage of assets and the occasional framerate drop. It gets the job done, sure, but it’s quite weak.

Gameplay: 8.0

Simple controls, decent collision detection, all the functional bells and whistles you’d expect from your typical bullet hell shooter. The addition of a permanent upgrade system makes Astro Flame: Starfighter stand out a bit more.

Sound: 6.5

The soundtrack itself is quite weak, but the sound effects were shockingly great. The sound of enemy ships being destroyed by your laser beams is delightful.

Fun Factor: 7.5

Just like Satur’s previous outing, Astro Flame: Starfighter is not a particularly flashy or unique shooter, but its upgrade system and gameplay loop made me like it way more than most indie shooters.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Astro Flame: Starfighter is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on PS5.

A copy of Astro Flame: Starfighter was provided by the publisher.