Time Pilot is an awesome game. There, I said it. It's an oldie but a goldie. But what if you took Time Pilot and made it into a rogue-like and added layers within levels to give it a sense of depth? Oh, and added a customisable aeroplane that you can modify to suit your play style and put it into some kind of 2.5D plane?
If you did all of these things you'd make an amazing game. That's exactly what Blindflung Studios did when they made Airheart. The really amazing thing is I don't think they even realise it!
The player takes control of a prop plane that is viewed from the top down. Using twin-stick shooter mechanics, the player must control their plane while shooting down enemy planes and collecting fish that for some inexplicable reason are floating in the air. This is never exactly explained during the time I had with Airheart, but I'm sure some kind of back story will present itself during the full Airheart release.
As planes are destroyed and fish collected, the player must make a choice between ploughing further on or returning to their base of operations to buy more equipment to enhance their plane.
It's this delicate balance that causes the player to consider their progress very carefully, for they only have one life and once it's extinguished they have to start all over again. This is a rogue-like, after all!
The visuals of Airheart are really lush with strong contrasting colours against a very deep blue sky. The animations of the planes and installations the player encounters are rich in detail, even in the pre-alpha stage Airheart was in when I played it.
I discovered Airheart while wandering through the Leftfield Collection at EGX 2016. Out of all the huge flashy booths at the UK's largest video gaming event, Leftfield Collection never ceases to disappoint and Airheart is a great example of that.
It's an arcade game that rewards the player with skillful and thoughtful play, with constant demands of risk-reward being offered that are core to the appeal of good rogue-likes such as Binding of Isaac and Spelunky.
Airheart is available now on Steam Early Access and a full release is heading to Windows PC, Mac and Linux in Q1 2017.