Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings for the Nintendo Switch
The word roguelike is starting to be a major turn-off in the Switch’s library. Now that the library on the Nintendo Switch has a vast catalog, the saturation of one particular genre is apparent. Yet, sometimes there is an exception. Airheart is beautiful, engaging, breath of fresh air in the genre and is definitely worth your time.
Airheart is a dieselpunk airplane adventure game where your goal is to reach the top of the stratosphere fighting bosses, enemies, and catching fish. There’s plane parts to buy, weapons too. There’s items to craft, and a hangar to customize your plane. There are elements that are different from the average roguelike, such as a non-roguelike mode. This is an addition I wish more games had, a sense of progression without feeling cheap!
Before I go in depth on Airheart, I would like to discuss its art style. This is one of the main reasons to buy the game, for sure. It’s vibrant. We say that a lot when describing a game, but Airheart truly is. It’s Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild level vibrancy! The colors appear cel-shaded, and really pop out. On top of that, there’s a perfect balance between angularity and roundness, almost looking like Borderlands. I can’t imagine what the game looks like in 4K. It already looks so good on the Switch!
Now we’re down to the rest of the game. At its core, Airheart is a twin-stick shooter roguelike. We’ve had plenty of these, so what’s different? Airheart is focused more on the airplane aspect. Your movement is that of an airplane, as well as the enemies. Your plane can be customized. With one or two weapons, a harpoon, and some abilities, you’ll take on the pirates as you mosey your way up to the stratosphere. There are bosses and lots of enemies to fight.
To earn money, you catch fish and collect oil barrels. There will be plenty of each, you just have to fly up more than one level. You won’t have a hard time getting upgrades, at least in the regular mode. This is because at any moment, even in a boss battle, you can fly down to your home base. Avoid obstacles on the way down, and boom! You’re home and all healed.
I appreciate not forcing the “rogue” mode. Airheart is still plenty challenging even without the regular roguelike mode. I don’t think I would have gotten as far as I did on Airheart as I did without the inclusion. Major props to the devs- I wish Enter the Gungeon had a mode like this.
The controls in Airheart are nice. I don’t know really how to describe it other than the fact that it controls how you’d expect a plane to. But it is more than that. Shooting works well, and pretty tight too. I felt depending on the weapon you have, the aiming is super nice. Some weapons not so much. With the harpoon you can do some crazy tricks. Use the harpoon to bash planes together! It’s satisfying.
I like the AI system. Of course the pirates are bad and will attack you. But there’s also nice planes that if you attack the police planes will arrive. But if police planes come, they’ll attack pirates. Just attack pirates. They’ll give you parts to craft with, a powerup or a health box. Essentially, I loved the AI system.
I didn’t experiment with the crafting system too much, but it’s more than just thrown in. Crafting in Airheart requires cash and parts. You won’t lose parts, but you will lose cash. Experiment as much as you can, there are some cool parts you can make!
Airheart has a party mode where the zeppelins in the main game is now what you and your friends control. It functions like Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, in the cool world of Airheart. It’s not a reason to buy the game, as you do need 3 others to enjoy it fully. But if you and your friends are after something in the vein of Lovers, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had.
Aside from a crash causing bug (messing with settings) Airheart is well off technically. Frame rate does take some dips during intense parts in handheld mode.
Airheart is the perfect roguelike for casual players because of the normal mode. It’s fun, beautiful, and definitely something unique in setting and gameplay. Airheart also has a solid party mode, adding more to the experience. If roguelikes previously weren’t for you, check out Airheart. I highly recommend it.
Reviewed by Jack Bankhead on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by Blindflug Studios.