I bought Luftrausers months ago for my Playstation Vita in a sale, as it always intrigued me after having played it at the Eurogamer Expo last year. I don’t usually get on with Bullet Hell games, as my precision isn’t as good as it should be, but Lufrausers intrigued me due to its accessibility and stylish graphics. Needless to say, I’m glad I bought it, as Luftrausers is one of the best small games I’ve played in a while. Some may have their fill of the game within a few minutes, but I’ve played this little game for well over 8 hours, and don’t feel like stopping anytime soon.
The game starts out with a tiny cinematic giving a little context on the situation of Luftrausers (and by tiny, I really do mean tiny, its like 5 seconds long). Basically, crazy scientists have managed to create some ultimate ships that can regenerate health if they don’t fire their weapons. You then start your first of many flights in Luftrausers, launching from a submarine every time.
Controls are simple enough to learn, but extremely hard to master. There’s the up button/direction, which propels you forward in the direction you’re facing, left and right rotates your ship, and finally the X button fires your weapon in the direction you’re facing. That’s it. Extremely simple to learn, but with the amount of bullets and enemies coming at you it’ll take you a lifetime to master.
There aren’t many enemies to learn about, and chances are,w within 3-4 playthroughs you’ll have met every enemy in the whole game. There are two types of enemies trying to get you which consist of both sea and air vehicles. Each class of vehicle has many variants, from small enemies like pawn planes that literally just follow you around and fire occasionally, to huge bosses that will take up the whole sky or sea firing so many bullets you cannot move without getting hit. Each enemy has different attack methods and movement, meaning some are easier to kill than others.
One of the things that sets luftrausers apart from other bullet hell games is your ability to regenerate your health whenever you’re not firing. Your health is represented by a white cloud that surrounds your plane the more you get hit. Score is completely based around a multiplier that will go up based on how many enemies you kill. If you go a while without killing anything, your multiplier will disappear, meaning you’re constantly in a risk/reward situation, where the longer you continue to fire you’ll probably kill more enemies, but in doing so you won’t heal.
Your ship can be customised in a variety of ways before launch each time you die, with a plethora of body types, gun types and engine types to choose from. Each plane part is unique, and will allow you to do a variety of things, from taking no damage underwater, to simple things like being able to turn faster. It’ll take some trial and error to see what combination of weapons and body parts you prefer, but that’s part of the fun. One of my favourite combinations was a gun that fired 5 bullets at once, a body that took no damage when colliding with enemies (fantastic for killing enemies in the sea that are hard to fire at), and an engine that allowed my plane to go underwater and above the clouds without taking any damage. It does have the disadvantage of only being able to take two bullets of damage before dying, but it’s one of the easiest ways to kill multiple enemies.
The soundtrack to the game is absolutely fantastic, with tunes fitting perfectly with the 1940’s style and aesthetic of the game. I found myself humming the tunes whilst playing other games, or even just walking down the road. It’ll definitely be a soundtrack that I’ll recommend for years to come, and one that I glad I experienced whilst playing through the game time and time again.
As I said at the beginning of this review, Luftrausers is easily on of the best mini-games I’ve played in a long time, keeping me coming back for more and more every time I boot my Playstation Vita up. What it may lack in content, Luftrausers certainly makes up for in polish and replayability.