Welcome, all and sundry, to another Comic Commish: a series of, well, oblique "thank yous" to the kind folk who have gifted me games on Steam in the past few years that I've neglected to either thank properly (and today's really no exception) nor have I actually bothered to play the games they were so gracious to send me. Until today, that is. This month's game is Vlambeer's Luftrausers, which comes courtesy of a Giant Bomb user whose username I forgot to write down to my ultimate chagrin. Still, I'm raising a salute in honor of the Unknown Duder with April's (well, technically March's; I'm still behind) Comic Commish, flying in just under the wire.
Talking of protracted flight and/or military metaphors, Luftrausers is a World War... X(?) dogfighting game that hearkens back to not only an era where blimps and non-jet-propulsed fighter planes were relevant in aerial warfare but also to an Arcade era of 2D (kinda) open-world shoot 'em ups like Konami's Time Pilot, Namco's Sky Kid and an old freeware Amiga game called Dogfight that I'm sure no-one remembers.
But, oh man, is this game something else.
Well, we've seen the officers back at HQ, but the game doesn't adequately explain who is actually flying the plane. Surely they can only rely on the best of the best? The créme de la créme? The Huey of the Lewises?
This game rocks. I'm generally lukewarm on games with simple, repetitive Arcade-style gameplay and an upgrade system that requires a lot of repeat business - Kongegrate and Newgrounds are filled with the things, all playing on some variation of a player feedback loop of "do well, earn improvements, do better" - but Luftrausers raises the bar with its presentation. The angular and austere character design (which, yeah, is a little close to the you-know-whats, but it's not like the Royal Air Force were particularly loose and "rock n' roll" and "playing volleyball with the boys to Kenny Loggins" back then either), the stark visual design of burgundy-on-urine and that fantastic track, that changes ever so slightly depending on the player's loadout, lends itself to multiple playthroughs.
The the most positive accolade I can give Luftrausers is thus: I don't give a fig for games that nakedly exhibit the aforementioned cyclical player-hooking mechanic in lieu of something more appealing to the non-insect part of my brain, like a story. I don't give a fig for shoot 'em ups in general (I die too often). I don't give a fig for games based on World War 2 or have strong WW2 allusions unless glowy blue anime ladies are involved. But I give all the figs (and several other types of stick) for Luftrausers. It's neat.