I find it hard to believe, but it’s been nearly a year since I got to chat with Rami Ismail about his new game, LUFTRAUSERS. It was a real pleasure talking with him at PAX East 2013- since then, he has made some fantastic progress on his game. I’m honestly not a big fan of shmups- they generally don’t excite me. LUFTRAUSERS, however, is the exception to the rule, and with good reason.
In LUFTRAUSERS, you dogfight in a little airplane over a WWI/WWII styled theater of war above water. You launch from a submarine into a hostile sky filled with thousands of tiny planes (and a few monstrous aces), with your customized little airplane. As you play the game and reach objectives, you unlock new engines, weapons, bodies, etc. The basic gameplay’s pretty simple- fly around, avoid getting hit by bullets, and shoot other planes out of the sky to become the BESTRAUSER. If you do manage to get hit, just stop firing and fly forwards- your plane will heal.
LUFTRAUSERS feels like a Vlambeer game because it has such a fast-paced arcade-y feel. There are a couple of cutscenes, but the focus is all on the action and, in part, gaining a high score. LUFTRAUSERS is a game about having fun in the sky and trying not to die. It’s quick and easy to pick up and surprisingly addictive- one more round will become your mantra should you pick it up.
Aesthetically, LUFTRAUSERS sets itself apart. Comparing the colors of LUFTRAUSERS to a cup of coffee seems apt, since it’s made of a few browns and creams. As far as 2D games go, LUFTRAUSERS seems to innovate in the graphics department- a good thing as far as I’m concerned. Overall, the art is neat and clean- the way that planes move looks very interesting- the game’s lo-fi look lends itself to moving objects looking as though they’re rendered in 3D. If sepia isn’t for you, it’s also possible to unlock a few other color schemes by playing the game. I also appreciated some of the other little touches in LUFTRAUSERS, such as the characters that appear between screens, and the way that the game does a good job at staying in character. The menus, sound effects and other elements of the game maintain the early 20th century dogfighting feel- it’s very well done and pivotal to the game’s overall vibe.
It would be a sin to talk about LUFTRAUSERS without mentioning the music. The music in LUFTRAUSERS is fast, upbeat and full of techno bleeps and bloops. It’s rather fast paced and suits the gameplay quite well- what makes it special, however, is the way that it changes dynamically with the game. The design of your airplane dictates the way the music sounds- there are over a hundred different tracks in the game as a result, and I’ve grown particularly fond of the main theme, which remains clear and catchy in all its variations.
Overall, LUFTRAUSERS is fun, fast, and worth playing. If you’re a fan of arcade styled games, you’ll definitely want to take a look at this one. Right now, it’s available to purchase on Steam and runs on Mac, PC and Linux.