You're a fighter pilot with a plane that can be customized to fire devastating lasers, equip heavy armor, and spin elegantly in all directions. Oh, and it can repair itself while in mid-flight and survive a dive straight into the ocean, too. Your life is constantly in danger as rival pilots, warships, and other hazards flood your path at every turn, and a flight can end in tragedy within seconds of takeoff. This is Luftrausers.
This odd little indie title from developer Vlambeer -- available today on Steam for Mac -- is a unique, modern twist on the classic old-school fighter pilot arcade games of yore. With ultra-simple controls consisting of a single button to fire your weapon and basic navigation controls, it takes just seconds to learn, but its steep difficulty curve means you won't be mastering the skies any time soon.
As soon as you launch your plane into the air you will be inundated with enemies to take out. Small, quick enemy planes zip by at every angle and don't seem to care if they plow right into your aircraft, while massive hostile ships patrol the ocean below. It's up to you to find a way to spin your plane in a manner that allows you to fire upon them, and then cross your fingers that you achieve a hit.
The game is presented in a four-color palette that makes it feel more like old war footage than a game, but the retro-futuristic weapons like lasers and massive missiles remind you that it's all very much tongue-in-cheek. The gritty, bass-filled soundtrack keeps pace with your flying and feels totally on point with the kind of experience the game offers.
The more you learn about how to fly efficiently, the more progress you'll make on the various goals laid before you -- which range from taking out certain numbers of enemies to scoring a large number of points. As you gain ranks you'll be given access to new plane modifications like various body types, propulsion systems, and weapons.
Luftrausers is currently on sale on Steam for US$8.99, a 10% discount over the regular price of $9.99, and it's definitely worth the price of admission.