Developed by Seed Interactive and originally being on your android or iOS as Ace Academy: Skies of Fury. Skies of Fury DX makes its way to the eShop and has you take the role of a fighter pilot during WW1. Take control of either a British or German ace pilot and make sure that your side achieves victory in the skies above where the stakes are even higher than the planes you pilot.
Skies of Fury offers a great wealth of main missions for you to take part in. 100 to be exact. There are 50 for the British and 50 for the Germans. I must admit I can’t quite put my finger on what is different between the German and British campaigns in terms of gameplay and I believe the major difference is the story that is told through the comics unlocked after beating each chapter out of the total of 5.
Of course 100 missions to complete wouldn’t be any good if they were no fun and the controls for the plane felt totally lousy. First of all lets look at the controls. I believe it was Shigeru Miyamoto that said if a game is fun to just move around in then you are on to something good (paraphrased, of course) and that is the case here. Flying through the air is simple, but satisfying and the controls are easy to learn, but offer depth.
On the surface you simply aim and shoot, but after a while as things start to get tricky and you have to take advantage of maneuvers that are tied to the D-pad which will help you dodge, nose dive to get that extra speed to get away from foes and take advantage of cloud cover to stay hidden. It all fits together perfectly and from the get go you’ll feel like the Red Baron or Mr Cruise from Top Gun as you chase down targets and try to avoid ones coming after you.
Skies of Fury DX also features some light RPG mechanics. You gain EXP from missions scoring more by fulfilling certain parameters and when you level up you can spend your skill points to upgrade your combat capabilities. Higher critical hit chance/damage, faster heath regeneration, more heath, stronger special attack and many more. You also unlock more planes as you level up to a total of 10. They do have varying stats, but never felt so different that it felt like you’d need to learn the best way to approach enemies.
Missions and Modes
Finally the question that must be asked is what do the 100 missions actually consist of? This is where I felt the game started to lack a bit. There are three types of missions dogfight, escort and a ring challenge. Dogfight will pit your squadron against another and see who comes out on top, with more waves being added in over time. Escort will make you have to defend ally planes who must reach a target without all of them being destroyed and then the ring challenge will see you try and fly through an obstacle course with a time limit. The latter was always satisfying as the layout of the obstacles always changed, but escort and dogfight really start to drag towards the end as apart from getting harder they don’t really offer much more.
The great problem with dogfight and escort is that for the most part all the planes do handle fairly similar and the location of each mission is in the sky with some clouds. The variety is seriously lacking and it isn’t to say these modes aren’t fun, but they are all the same and playing for extended periods of play can be a bit of a drag. Sure some will add in more enemy ace pilot and more enemies, but that is all the later missions offer. I should also mention the challenges you can toggle on and off. At first I found the game to be quite easy, but you can toggle 5 different challenges which really ramp up the difficulty. Less health, longer charge for special and others. I mean I was really struggling when I had all five activated.
There is more than just single player, there is sadly no online play, but there is local versus and survival. Versus is what you expect 2-4 of you can clash against each other in the skies. Between 2 players it isn’t great, but with 4 it is hectic and exciting. Survival can be played with 1-4 players and sees you face off against wave after wave with no end in sight. As you progress you can skills to help you out and you got to see how high of a score you can get. Both modes work well and are worth playing. As said though it is a shame there is no online for leader boards or 8 players versus.
Visually the game is quite the treat to look at. The actual ground is quite sketchy, but apart from that the cel shaded graphics look lovely and some of the horizons and skies look beautiful. Whether it is a clear blue sky or a orange sunset every now and then I felt myself being taken away from the chaos and admiring it. The sound design is on point as well. Engines, gunfire and the sound of the a plane falling out of the sky sound just like the classic movies and you can tell a good deal of effort has been put into these aspects.
As I said earlier at the end of each chapter you will get a few comic panels to read through. The artwork in these is great and they are based on events of Bloody April. It might be hit and miss for some in terms of storytelling, but just gleaning some information from them is quite fascinating. Like how the average life expectancy of a pilot was simply 17 days. Last of all you will also unlock loot boxes, but don’t worry! They are free to open. These will unlock new crosshairs and skins for your planes and are a nice little throwaway addition.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Skies of Fury DX was provided by Illumination Games.