Developed By HandyGames Published By HandyGames Reviewed on PlayStation 4 ( Also available on Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox One)
Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron is a top down action shmup (shoot em up for short) bullet hell game that will give you a run for your money. The game takes place during World War II during which the Nazis seem to have comes across some alien technology and have advanced their weaponry to spaceships and flying trains. The story in Aces is really easy to follow and lets you jump right in without any backstory really: Nazis try to invade and destroy America, which is pretty much the gist of it.
You play as a pilot named Mark Taylor who leads the squadron of four on a daring mission to defeat the enemy. What makes Aces of the Luftwaffe really unique is that every pilot has an affliction that can kind of ruin your day or just make things a little difficult. Mark gradually becomes afflicted with poison and will be forced to move slowly until he’s recuperated long enough. Then you have John, or Johnny as his squad calls him, whose rage will cause him to fly around the screen killing enemies and will also try to kill you if you get in his way.
Melisa is the only woman fighter in your group and in certain situations she will get scared due to her acrophobia, the fear of flying, and will actually leave the group entirely for a few minutes or so. Lastly we have Steve who sometimes falls asleep due to his narcolepsy, so you will be forced to protect him while he drifts left and right on the screen until he wakes up. All this sounds a little annoying but it’s not, it really adds something to the genre that I have never seen that makes it feel fresh and fun.
Flying around in Aces of the Luftwaffe feels a little slower than most of the bullet hell games I have played. You can level up, gain certain abilities for each character, and find new planes you can switch over to helps alleviate that. You are given points after completing each mission which you can then spend on abilities, like more damage or health. The customization of everything in the menu is really user friendly and easy to use. The detail and effects of the enemies look like something from a comic book with lasers firing each and every way possible makes this a really crazy bullet hell title.
The included multiplayer adds way more value to the game. Who doesn’t like playing with a friend or more? Co-op supports up to four players. The only issue is that it’s local multiplayer only which kind of forces you to grab 2-3 more friends to come couch party with you. Multiplayer is a blast though. I only played two player co-op so I didn’t get to experience the four player glory, but it was amazing having someone tag along with you in bullet hell. All the little quirks of the pilots are still there but only for the computer characters. If your buddy joins you and whoever he or she picks won’t experience their character’s affliction.
Having an buddy or three with you to battle the evil forces is great especially against in boss fights. They are quite grand and you would expect nothing less in a bullet hell shmup. Playing it solo you kinda have to watch out for your teammates but having a partner with you in the fight just makes this more enjoyable. The only thing that makes Aces of the Luftwaffe a more enjoyable experience would be the soundtrack in all its orchestral glory. It makes you feel like you are playing this inside a movie. The score while you are in a boss fight is phenomenal.
After playing Aces of the Luftwaffe in solo and in co-op, I would say this game definitely shines in co-op. If you have more than one buddy, tell them you’re buying pizza and make it a party.