Frequent Flyer Review
Not enough leg room.
Frequent Flyer feels like LUFTRAUSERS on autopilot. It’s a mildly fun, somewhat demanding arcade shoot-em-up, but ultimately one which lacks scope or depth. The question of whether Frequent Flyer is worth your time depends on how much time you’re willing to put into it, as the experience undoubtedly improves once you reach the more difficult stages of the game.
To its credit, developer Coldwild Games provide a decent range of modes for testing out Frequent Flyer’s airborne combat. The campaign, boasting an extensive selection of increasingly taxing levels, provides a solid warm up act before jumping into the various arcade and survival modes that follow. It also represents the most efficient way to acquire stars; a form of in-game currency which can be used to buy new planes.
Each of these ten planes looks and handles differently, but it feels as though Frequent Flyer could have really benefitted from a leveling system or customization options since the nuts and bolts of the shoot-em-up gameplay itself lacks variation.
You can unlock new weapon power-ups, which themselves can only be equipped if you happen to find one popped up around the environments, but they can’t quite turn the dynamics of the combat into something that’s really engaging. Even so, discovering each power-up and figuring out how best to deploy them makes for enjoyable highlight, as the weapons range from a rat-a-tat machine gun to a piercing sniper shot.
Instead, the strongest area of diversity is found in the enemy types. Zeppelins, rockets, bi-planes, fighter jets, each of the twenty different combatants deploy a unique style of attack that all require a certain approach for retaliation. This variety keeps the gameplay, which admittedly feels both tight and precise, from getting stale too quickly, though the mundanity does eventually settle in after a while.
The three arcade modes are of varying degrees of quality. Time Attack, whereby killing enemies awards you extra time under the pressures of a stopwatch, represents the best of the bunch, as the added layer of challenge adds some welcome tension to the proceedings. Organized mode, wherein one type of enemy bombards the arena from a specific side of the screen, feels too similar to the campaign to offer anything worth jumping into.
Infinite Mode, on the other hand, opens up all environmental restrictions, making the game a lot easier since you are no longer confined to a defined space and can more easily escape enemy attacks. Considering Frequent Flyer is a better game when it offers more of a challenge, Infinite Mode failed to engage me with its easygoing pace.
“You can earn stars by tweeting. This isn’t really a criticsm or a form of praise; I just think it’s really odd.”
On a more positive note, Frequent Flyer accommodates full controller support and boasts a dynamic 16-bit aesthetic accompanied by an appropriately retro soundtrack. It runs exceptionally well and dons an asking price which isn’t too steep for what’s included with the base game.
Coldwild Games latest work isn’t the best experience that the old-school shoot-em-up genre has to offer, but it’s still a competently crafted title which manages to contribute a few original ideas in the process. Right now, it lacks any lasting appeal beyond a few hours at most, but the promise of post-launch support suggests that Frequent Flyer will probably be a much better game as time goes on.
Also, you can earn stars by tweeting. This isn’t really a criticism or a form of praise; I just think it’s really odd.