It’s been a while since I’ve played a pure shoot ’em up.
The last one I played was, ironically, Sky Force Anniversary, a remake of a 2004 shoot ’em up released this time last year, at time of writing. I didn’t like it, due to how it did absolutely nothing for the genre, and had the pacing of a snail in slow motion. While the point may have been that it’s an entry-level title, it had the mechanics and skill ceiling to imply otherwise, so maybe the developers have a bad case of contrasting.
Nevertheless, Anniversary had ideas that the developer could tap into, and the developers themselves are Infinite Dreams. These guys are a Polish bunch, who’s biggest titles are arguably the Sky Force games themselves, as everything else is just your average App Store fodder. You ever played Can Knockdown? Shoot The Zombies? Shoot The Birds? Let’s Create Pottery? No? Thought not.
If you have played Sky Force Anniversary, everything is exactly the same, and I’m not using hyperbole. You get a tutorial, which ends with your all-powerful ship being destroyed by utterly awful voice acting, and now your ship couldn’t injure a squad of Humpty Dumpty’s. It’s up to you to replay levels over and over again so you can grind stars, the currency in Reloaded that’ll allow you to get better upgrades.
This is what Sky Force revolves around; endless grinding so you can see the next level and get your ass kicked in it. There are some other side mechanics, like temporary power ups you have to pray to get, and a seemingly endless upgrade station, but it’s mostly the grinding, a mechanic Infinite Dreams are proud to have. I personally laugh at the fact that they think that this type of XP grinding translates well at all, especially when you consider just how lack-luster everything else is.
See, grinding only works in stuff like World of Warcraft, Borderlands and Diablo because there’s varying levels of rewards and success for your hard earned slaughter of 100’000 skeletons. It could be a plethora of new equipment, upgrades and areas that you are free to explore and fuck around in, and have fun while doing so. Here, Infinite Dreams do have the same kind of rewards, but the game fails to replicate the same rewarding feeling.
You don’t come out of a stage saying “Wow, I wonder what we’re going to see next!” You come out saying “What stretch of land am I going to waste 3 hours of my pissing life on now?” And that’s not fun.
The pacing of the game is still at an unbelievable crawl, to the point where you’d be more interested in watching the loading screens of Sonic ’06. There isn’t intertwining paths, there isn’t secret bosses, or different enemy placements each time you play. It’s a rhythm-action title where the soundtrack is John Cage’s 4’33. Damn, that was one high-brow joke.
Speaking of the music, it’s okay. It’s the same poppy electronic music that was present in the last game, but the audio mixing is so badly done, that you won’t be able to hear it while the game announcer screams “WEAPON UPGRADE” and “NICE”. Even if you do fiddle around with the audio options, it still won’t be enough to wake you up from the coma you’re about to experience.
Does Sky Force Reloaded get better, you ask? I dunno. Probably not, since I stopped playing quicker than I did with Anniversary. I don’t want to hear crap like “Oh, well, for an iPhone game, it’s good!” NEWS FLASH: I’m not reviewing iPhone products, buddy boy, this is the bigger screen. A bigger screen that the developers are still viewing from far away.
Awful metaphor aside, Infinite Dreams decided to focus on making everything look shinier, without making proper strides in function, hurt it somewhat, and the game becomes worse than its technically lacking father. Yeah, it might look nice but it doesn’t back up its graphical punch with a tighter punch on gameplay and, therefore, suffers for it.
Sky Force Reloaded sucked, and since this type of sequel-naming is popular again, I eagerly await Sky Force: Adventure of The Apocalypse Chronicles 2: Electric Boogaloo Awakening Remixed DX: Special Edition.
If you looked up the definition of a "lacking sequel", you'd find the definition of a "lacking sequel", which this game is.