There are those who seem to really dislike indie games for some reason and brush them off because they think that the only good games out there are AAA titles. I’m not one of those people. As much as I enjoy AAA titles, I don’t want to constantly pay $60 for them so I wait for the prices on those to fall. To keep me busy while I wait, I like to play indie games because they are usually pretty affordable and unlike some AAA titles, they are actually quite fun and unique. Not only that, most indie game allow you to play at your own leisure whether you only want to spend a few minutes with them or a few hours.
With that said, the latest indie game I’m checking out is that of LUFTRAUSERS from indie developer Vlambeer and Devolver Digital. If you know anything about Vlambeer, than you know they make some fun and unique games. LUFTRAUSERS is definitely that. LUFTRAUSERS is a retro 8-bit action game where you play as a pilot of a rauser and must dogfight your way to victory against immeasurable odds. Launch into the skies as you face wave after wave of other pilots gunning for you as well as going up against enemy war boats, battleships, and even deadly blimps. Defeat all that stand in your way to ultimate fame.
This is where LUFTRAUSERS really shines. Gameplay is the main focus here and what Vlambeer and Devolver Digital have created is truly amazing. The game is a retro-looking dog fighter with you at the helm of an experimental plane called a rauser. You start off with a basic rauser but as you progress through the game and level up, you’ll gain powerful new weapons, bodies, and propulsion systems that you can mix and match to form over 125 different combinations of rausers.
The customization system in the game is pretty straightforward. As you play, you’ll be rewarded with new weapons, bodies, and propulsion systems for your rauser. You can mix and match any of these to your specification and each new combination creates a new rauser. For instance, you can play as a rauser that has a laser attached to it, increased armored body, and increased speed. You can then switch it up later if you want and use a weapon that has homing missiles, a body that lets you ram enemies without taking damage, and a propulsion system that uses bullets to move you. What’s cool is that each of these different combinations has its own name, some of which are quite amusing.
Controlling your rauser isn’t that difficult and mainly consists of just using the left stick and any of the face buttons on your controller/Vita to fire your weapon. Motion is controlled with the thumbstick though you can also opt to use the directional button controls. Up will propel your rauser forward while left and right will turn your vehicle either clockwise or counterclockwise. Down doesn’t really do anything. If you want to, you can also use the right bumper for propulsion which does make the control scheme a bit simpler so all you would need the stick for turning.
You’re rauser is quite nimble in the air. You must use forward propulsion to move, but you can move in any direction. You can even let go of the propulsion, turn your rauser, and then start moving again for tight turns and even 180-degree turns. It makes for a unique way to control an aircraft that can get you out of some very sticky situations.
LUFTRAUSERS isn’t all about killing either. Each new part you unlock has its own set of challenges that you can try to complete and if you complete all the challenges for any given part, you’ll unlock a special SFMT mode for it with its own unique set of challenges.
Graphics and Sound
Like many of the indie games I’ve looked at recently, LUFTRAUSERS features a retro 8-bit look to it that harkens back to the old days. Most of you who love this retro look were probably gamers back in the 80’s when the game consoles like the NES and SEGA Master System reigned supreme. What I love about 8-bit graphics is that the art style really lends itself well to gameplay because the art style doesn’t take away from it or distract you from it. What LUFTRAUSERS lacks in what some call “next gen” or current gen graphics, it makes up for with its fantastic gameplay.
However in my opinion, LUFTRAUSER looks amazing for the type of game it is and even among retro 8-bit looking games, has an art style all its own. The game uses very a very limited color pallet that has that sepia feel to it that you see in old photos. This gives the game a really unique look, adding to its war themed look. I’d say that it’s the look of the game that really caught my attention and was one of the main attributes about it that I really like.
On the sound side, LUFTRAUSERS has a kick ass soundtrack that changes whenever you create a new rauser. The soundtrack is by KOZILEK and every part that you change on your rauser seems to change a tiny bit of the background music. It’s a neat feature that helps keep the game exciting and fresh.
With all the unique games I’ve been playing lately on the PS Vita, you’d think that there would be little left that could really surprise me, but you’d be wrong. That’s what makes indie games so appealing to me, and that’s the fact that they somehow always bring something new and exciting to the table when it comes to gameplay. LUFTRAUSERS is no different. If you’re a fan of hectic, challenging action games, LUFTRAUSERS is a game you’ll want to add to your collection. Sure there might not really be a storyline to the game, but what it lacks there, it makes up for in sheer fun.
I was quite surprised with just how fun and exciting LUFTRAUSERS is. The combination of the both the unique 8-bit graphics and kicking soundtrack really make the action come alive. This along with the simple gameplay mechanics makes this a game where I actually wanted to to keep coming back for more whether it be to complete more challenges or beat my highest score. It really is one of those great games that you can either play for a few minutes or sit and have a marathon with. I go as far to say that so far, it’s in my top 5 list of favorite indie games this year that I’ve played on the PS Vita.
LUFTRAUSERS is currently available in the PSN Store for $9.99, though if you’re a PS PLus member, you can get it for $7.99. It’s a cross-buy game so it bought it for PS3 or PS Vita, you will get it for the other platform for free.
Disclaimer: The PR Agency for Devolver Digital sent me the PSN download code for this game to review.