Airheart is a twin-stick roguelike game that takes the action to the skies. In a world that has become a wasteland on the surface there exists a land in the skies. Amelia, the protagonist, travels through the harsh desert with her father, and he sacrifices his future to send her to Granaria, the land in the sky. After she has come into her own she sets out to make a living in Grenaria sky-fishing, and hopes to catch the mythical whale who flies high above all.
The land of Ganaria is colorful, vibrant, and strangely full of flying fish and people who fly in diesel prop planes to catch them. A twin-stick shooter at heart you control the steering of your ship with one stick, and your aim with another. With the ability to shoot in any direction independent of the direction your plane travels you can tackle any threats that come at you.
As an ambitious fisherwoman Amelia tries to pull in the most fish in every run out from her hanger. Pirate towers and planes work against you every level, growing increasingly difficult and armored. You have a single machine gun to start but with time you can upgrade and unlock plane parts that give you more starting options. You also have a grappling hook in your arsenal that comes in handy in more ways than one.
You can harpoon fish to keep them from slipping away. When you have one on the hook you can reel it in, otherwise it will fly around behind you tethered by the hook. More importantly you can harpoon many enemy planes, as well as armor plates that cover certain towers and planes. The harpoon can be tricky to land but using it is super satisfying. Since the stuff you hook follows behind your plane as you fly you can fly in circles to turn your cargo into an impromptu flail. This works really well for certain bigger enemy planes and explosive canisters.
In every level of Airheart you have fish you can collect to earn a run-based currency. This can be traded in every so often at certain airships. What they sell/exchange changes per run. Some can simply convert your run based currency to a currency that sticks with you between runs, some ships can sell new weapons to swap into a slot. Once you find the exit point for that level you can leave at any time as long as there aren’t enemies nearby.
When you leave the level you start to realize something interesting. Your plane shoots up into the sky vertically as you approach the next “level” of the sky world. You can still see every level below you that you have cleared. This is important because if you get close to being destroyed you can bail out and return to your base. This sends your plane into a dive straight down where you have to avoid running into floating islands of the world below you to get back to your hanger.
Airheart also has intermittent boss fights with large blimps swarming with enemy planes waiting to take you down. As you reach new areas within the game you also get small intermittent screens that fill in a bit more lore of the area you are entering. The game is story light, as a lot of rogue like games are, but does a good job making Amelia feel like she has goals and a personality.
One way or another the end of a run will send you back to the hanger with a handful of money for how many fish you have landed, as well as a stack of components you collect from destroyed enemy planes. You can use your between run currency to purchase parts of new planes. They are separated into engine, body, wings, and weapons. Each new plane can be purchased in parts, and all parts can be mixed and matched with other planes. Each piece usually has a unique perk to it as well that may give active or passive abilities, or the ability to hold more weapons.
If you don’t have the money for plane parts from the shop you can also enter into the workshop to try and craft things from the ground up. You collect a base set of components, and can enter these into a central row to try and craft a set of recipes that line the bottom of the screen. Each recipes that you have has a few circles above it for the amount of components it needs, as well as some below that show what category of components it needs. Attempting to craft an item will let you know which components are in the right spot, and which are not. It plays out much like a game of Mastermind and serves as an interesting mini-game. This could get taxing, but once you discover something you can always go back and quick-craft it again. Over time this builds up to unlocking plane parts and weapons.
The world of Airheart feels interesting and unique as you go higher and higher to discover new areas. It even has a police force that will come after you if you turn pirate and start destroying innocent fishermen that fly around on many levels. It’s best to leave them alone, but they also do work to collect fish that you could be collecting to bring home.
Airheart is a game that has keeps on giving the more I played it. Unlocking new abilities and weapons is always interesting and the game often drops new weapons for you to use for a limited time which gets me to try something other than the same layout every time. Unlocking the ships in parts is a fun progression system that feels rewarding as the unique perks and abilities make just about every piece viable. If you’re a fan of the roguelike genre or just of flying around in prop planes to catch sky fish I recommend Airheart.
Note: GameOctane editor Jason Germino received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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Unique progression and unlockables
Multiple paths to unlock ship parts and weapons
Unique twin-stick gameplay
Satisfying grappling hook mechanics
Story feels generic to the experience
Game tutorial leaves a lot to be desired