Developer: Infinite State Games
Publisher: Infinite State Games
Release Date: April 12, 2018
Platforms: Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
I find myself craving those sorts of games that carry an arcade-style experience. You know the kinds, the games that have short levels and rewarding flashes and noises. Once in a while I want to grab a controller and just kill 10 minutes real quick, maybe accidentally spend 30 after I got really close to my last high score. It is very safe to say that Rogue Aces fits the bill.
Clearly, it is a flyin’ and shootin’ kind of game, although if you look too closely at the graphics in the trailer you may confuse this for a free phone game. That isn’t to say the game doesn’t have style, but it almost appears too easy to control and shoot enemies. As soon as you get your hands on it, however, the complications begin to reveal themselves. There are a handful of game modes in Rogue Aces, but you are started off with a straightforward tutorial and a simple campaign mode. These both use simplified controls, but as you unlock more game modes you will quickly be asked to master more complicated maneuvers.
I found myself really getting sucked into the survival mode. Plane after plane is sent after you, and you don’t have much more of an objective than to shoot down as many as you can. After dying with very low scores once or twice I started to experiment with some of the post-death tips the game offers. Players control a plane’s throttle with the right analog stick, but I quickly learned that good timing of a stall could be used to force a sharp u-turn when I’m surrounded. Another fun trick is hijacking rival planes, which is done by ejecting and carefully (or with luck) landing in another cockpit. In survival mode this meant extending my playthrough and netting a few extra points, but these skills translated immediately into the campaign.
The real fun of Rogue Aces comes from the procedurally generated missions that will have you chasing down other planes, zeppelins, or even ground units like trains and tanks. There is a special sort of satisfaction that comes from successfully making a manual landing in an enemy base, only to see your little flag rise and allies populate the buildings.
There is just enough variety to enjoy coming back to Rogue Aces from time to time, and on systems like the Switch or Vita it is a perfect match. I do wish there was just a hint more personality, something like quips from the pilots that would be quotable over time, or a more imaginative setting than “war plane land.” Again, the music and visuals very much remind me of a cheap phone game, and that is disappointing because that acts as a barrier that hides the depth and fun of mastering the control scheme the team has put together.
As a budget title that is fun to pickup whenever or sit down to focus on, I do commend it for having such tight controls and a neat playground to exercise them in. But, I do need to knock some points for lacking that extra polish that would have made this a must-have to survive the ages.