Airheart is a different kind of top down shooter. Similar in many ways to a lot of classic shmups, however the action is limited to arena like levels. The story is somewhat post apocalyptic, with people forced to live in the skies, above their barren, desolate earth. There also just happens to be fish in the sky, and the games protagonist, Amelia, sets out to catch a sky whale that her father would be proud of. The skies around Amelia’s hometown are strictly policed due to the presence of sky pirates. This means certain airspace is restricted when these scurvy sky dogs are around and areas are out of bounds until they’re dealt with, or you’ve put enough daylight between yourself and those annoying pirates.
Aerial combat is required to take care of the pirates, and at first is quite a chore. Your bog standard plane and weapons are not very effective and it takes time to take them out. You need to be accurate too, because a stray shot can land you in trouble with the authorities, who have an abundance of weapons, and they shoot first and ask questions later. While it’s not difficult to escape, you’ll take a hefty chunk of damage, and if you’re not careful, you may be forced to land and start over. This can get quite annoying, as unless you grind it out and take it slow, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by the enemy very quickly. The gameplay gets quite repetitive rather quickly however. Despite the great visuals and characters, just making any progress in the game soon becomes a drag. However, you do get to upgrade your plane and ammunition etc, by collecting various items you find around the skies. You do this via a crafting screen back at your base, and by trying out different combinations of items and seeing what sticks.
There’s a ton of great overhead shoot em ups out there already, and unfortunately, Airheart doesn’t rise above what’s already available. I tried my best to get into it as it looked like such a great game, but for all its lush visuals and great story, if you’re after a decent shmup, you can do a lot better.